CRUES SQUEEZE PAST BLUES AT SEAVIEW
Crusaders came from a goal down - and missed a penalty - to get the better of Linfield at Seaview.
Kicking off ten minutes later to allow the visiting fans to get into the ground, it was Linfield keeper Chris Johns that was called into action first to keep out a Ben Kennedy free-kick and then stop Johnny McMurray's close range rebound from crossing the line.
At the other end Jordan Stewart saw an 18-yard effort blocked in front of goal while Sam Roscoe could only head the follow up onto the roof of the net.
The Crues came close after half-an-hour when Josh Robinson nodded into the side netting from Kennedy's free-kick before, not long after that, Kennedy himself wasn't far away when his effort from the edge of the area was blocked by Jamie Mulgrew.
However the deadlock was broken in Linfield's favour three minutes from the break. Mulgrew played the ball out of midfield before laying it off for Billy Chadwick who teed up Christy Manzinga to send a curling finish beyond the outstretched Jonny Tuffey and into the far corner of the net.
Crusaders were presented with a great chance to level early in the second half after Chris Shields was conceded a penalty for a foul on Adam Lecky but Kennedy was unable to make the most of the opportunity and could only send his spot-kick onto the crossbar.
But the Crues did equalise soon after. Again Lecky was involved, this time to flick the ball on for Paul Heatley to run onto and beat Johns with a composed finish.
The woodwork denied Crusaders again a couple of minutes later after Jordan Forsythe's cross hit the far post and rolled along the goalline before being cleared by Michael Newberry.
Played switched almost immediately for Stewart to pick out Manzinga only for his shot to be blocked, as was Matthew Clarke's close range rebound effort.
What proved to be Crusaders' winner came with seven minutes remaining when Kennedy redeemed himself for his earlier miss after making the most of a miscommunicated in the Linfield defence to nip in and lob Tuffey.
Linfield had a stoppage time chance to salvage a point but Stewart could only volley into the side netting after a corner fell for him.
Crusaders: Tuffey, Burns, Wilson, Kennedy, Lecky, Caddell, Forsythe, O’Rourke, Heatley, Robinson, McMurray subs O’Neill (not used), Hegarty (not used), Weir (replaced Kennedy 88), Lowry (not used), Frazer (not used), Owens (replaced Lecky 85), Clarke (replaced McMurray 75)
Linfield: Johns, Roscoe, Newberry, Shields, Callacher, Millar, Manzinga, Stewart, M. Clarke, Mulgrew, Chadwick subs Walsh (not used), Larkin (not used), Donnelly (replaced Mulgrew 88), Quinn (replaced Chadwick 60), Salam (not used), Marshall (not used), Green (replaced Newberry 85)