LOWRY GIVES CRUES THE EDGE
Crusaders secured a narrow victory with a one-goal defeat of League Cup finalists Coleraine at Seaview.
The Bannsiders created the first effort of note on seven minutes when Eoin Bradley found himself clear on the left but his shot from inside the area was well kept out by Jonny Tuffey.
Crusaders threaten just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark after Jarlath O'Rourke cut the ball back for Jordan Owens but he could only rifle his response over the top.
But the home side did edge into the lead midway through the first half when Philip Lowry was presented with too much time to fire beyond Gareth Deane after creating space on the right.
Coleraine might have levelled twice after that but Conor McKendry was denied at close range by Tuffey before Matthew Shevlin had a go from outside the box but, again, the Crues keeper was equal to the challenge.
The Crues could have doubled their advantage right on the break but Ben Kennedy's strike from the edge of the area was somehow kept out by Deane.
The visitors pushed for the equaliser as the second half progressed, with Stephen Lowry having a header turned over by Tuffey.
Further opportunities came later in the half, particularly when Jamie Glackin was released by Patrick Kelly to go one-on-one with Tuffey but, again, the Crues keeper came out on top.
And they had one last opportunity when Curtis Allen got on the end of a Josh Carson header but could only send his shot wide of the target.
Crusaders: Tuffey, Wilson, Lowry, Kennedy, Forsythe, O’Rourke, L. Patterson, Owens, Winchester, Robinson, Clarke subs Shields (not used), Hegarty (replaced L. Patterson 17), Weir (replaced Clarke 88), Doyle (not used), McMurray (replaced Owens 57), J. Patterson (not used), Thompson (not used)
Coleraine: Deane, McKendry, Lowry, Bradley, Carson, Wilson, O’Donnell, Glackin, Traynor, Kelly, Shevlin subs Gallagher (not used), Kane (not used), Mullan (not used), Brown (replaced Traynor 67), McLaughlin (replaced McKendry 86), Allen (replaced Shevlin 71)