Jordan Owens his mobbed by his team-mates after opening the scoring (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)
Saturday, 16 March 2019
Crusaders kept up their pursuit of second spot with a two-goal derby victory over Cliftonville at Seaview.
The Crues stormed in front after just five minutes through Jordan Owens with a powerful close range header from Jordan Forsythe's free-kick to give Richard Brush no chance.
Owens might have doubled the home lead on 19 minutes with a header from another Forsythe delivery but Brush did well to tip the header over while Rory Hale's effort from the corner that followed was also touched away.
Another chance followed, this time a curling shot from David Cushley which went wide of the far post before the Reds finally had an attempt of note when Joe Gormley laid the ball off for Ryan Curran but Sean Ward was on hand to block the shot.
But Crusaders did extend their advantage just before the break with Kyle Owens on target this time after steering a free-kick from Forsythe beyond Brush.
Stephen Baxter's side might have added a third goal on the hour when, on the counter, Cushley scuttled down the right flank before flashing a cross into the box only for it to just evade the inrushing Jordan Owens at the back post.
Despite trailing by those two goals the Reds never gave up and almost clawed one back courtesy of a 40-yard Gormley effort which sailed just over the crossbar with Sean O'Neill beaten while another effort, this time a header, was cleared off the line by Billy Joe Burns soon after.
Crusaders were reduced to ten men on 71 minutes when Rory Hale was shown a second yellow card following a late challenge on Jaimie McGovern but they held onto their two goal cushion to secure the victory to move them to within five points of second placed Ballymena United.
Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Coates, Ward, Cushley, Forsythe, K. Owens, J. Owens, Snoddy, Clarke, Rr. Hale subs Doherty (not used), McChrystal (not used), Beverland (not used), Thompson (replaced Clarke 15), McGinley (not used), Patterson (not used), Rn. Hale (replaced Cushley 58)
Cliftonville: Brush, McGovern, Breen, Grace, C. Curran, R. Curran, R. Donnelly, Bagnall, McMenamin, Gormley, Gorman subs Neeson (not used), Ives (replaced Breen 15), Garrett (replaced McMenamin 79), McConnell (replaced Bagnall 60), A. Donnelly (not used), Rocks (not used), Whiteway (not used)
Referee: Tim Marshall
|Billy Joe Burns|
|Rory Donnelly||45 +2|