GLENTORAN 3 CRUSADERS 0
Crusaders’ grip on third place slackened after suffering a 3-0 defeat to Glentoran at the Oval.
Stephen Baxter’s men are in a dogfight to snatch the European spot with Portadown now just a point behind them in fourth after they claimed a draw against Linfield.
Curtis Allen’s sixth-minute opener came from an impressive, curling free-kick from 25 yards out.
Crusaders were awarded a penalty after Glens keeper Elliott Morris brought Declan Caddell down in the box, but Nathan Hanley’s spot-kick was saved and his rebound attempt cleared off the line by David Scullion.
John McGuigan doubled the lead in the second half, before Danny McKee picked up a late third, heading in Fra McCaffery’s corner.
Both teams had a man sent off in the second half, Colin Coates dismissed following a clash with William Garrett and Allen for lashing out four minutes later.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Henderson, Hill, McAlorum, Scullion (Stewart, 85), Garrett, McGuigan (Nelson, 80), McCaffery, Allen, Boyd (McKee, 53), Gordon.
Subs not used: Bradley, Stewart, Miskimmin.
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Magowan, Leeman, Coates, Hanley, Clarke, Robinson (Smith, 85), Caddell, D McAllister (McMaster, 64), Adamson, Owens (McCutcheon, 46).
Subs not used: E McAllister, McClean.
Referee: Ian McNabb (Belfast)