Marissa Callaghan (13)

1

Celine Curtis (57p)
Celine Curtis (86)

2

Celine Curtis scored both goals as Crusaders defeated Cliftonville at Solitude (Picture: Matt Mackey/PressEye.com)

CURTIS DOUBLE HELPS CRUES TO DERBY WIN OVER REDS

Crusaders Strikers earned the bragging rights from the first North Belfast derby of the season with victory over Cliftonville Ladies at Solitude.

Cliftonville came out of the blocks sharper in the first half and, indeed, moved in front courtesy of a Marissa Callaghan header from Jo Anne McCarthy's cross after 13 minutes, her fifth league goal of the season.

Both sides had a few good chances after that and Crusaders were quick on the break but the home side remained both strong and firm to go in at the break with the lead.

After the interval the Crues started to apply the pressure, levelling just before the hour with a penalty awarded for a foul on Rebecca Bassett which former Cliftonville player Celine Curtis stepped up to coolly convert. 

Crusaders continued to press, coming close when a great free kick from Julie Nelson grazed the top of the crossbar.

It was a tense atmosphere in the final quarter-of-an-hour as both teams looked dangerous but, with five minutes remaining, a misplaced pass ended up at the feet of Curtis who scored what proved to be the match winner and her second goal of the night to give the Crues all three points. 

Highlights:

Cliftonville Ladies: C. Callaghan, Moran, McCarthy, Service, Grattan, McMaster, Simpson, da Silva, Dempster, M. Callaghan, Weatherall subs McKenna (not used), Harbinson (replaced da Silva 52), Grieve (not used), Doherty (not used), Canavan (not used)

Crusaders Strikers: Adams, Wright, Nelson, McNeill, McCann, Bassett, Hamilton, Watters, Beggs, McDowell, Curtis subs Armour (replaced McCann 46), Wilson (replaced McDowell 22), Mearns (not used), Moore (not used), Beattie (replaced Watters 69)

Referee: Ryan Hanna