While Crusaders celebrated climbing to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership, Ards slumped back to the bottom of the table after Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Clandeboye Park.
A merciless Crusaders put the game to bed inside the first 26 minutes, with Gary McCutcheon, Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley all getting on the score sheet. McCutcheon added a fourth at the start of the second half, before Neil Dougan’s 62nd minute strike added a touch of respectability to the score line.
After the game, a furious Niall Currie said some of his players’ need I think about their performances.
He said: “It was men against boys out there today. I know it’s tough, but the players aren’t pressing the opposition enough and they’re not retaining the ball.
“They were light years ahead of us. I was extremely disappointed with the lack of intensity in our game.
“They played very well, but we gave them three soft goals today.
“Our boys need to brave on the ball and they need work hard when they’re not in possession.
“The supporters deserve more than what they got today.
“Our players lifted their wages after the game and I think a few of them will have to reflect on their recent performances.
“All we ask from our players is that they give the fans their money’s worth. I don’t think they got that today.
While Currie frets over his squad, Crusaders’ boss Stephen Baxter is basking in the glory of another comfortable victory.
Reflecting on the impressive win, manager Baxter said: “It doesn’t get much better than.
“In the first half we kept the ball well, created numerous chances and missed a penalty.
“By 3-0 the damage was done and we just had to make sure we stayed on top of the game.
“We took our foot off the pedal in the second half but I can have no complaints today as some of our passages of play were superb. It was supreme football from a team that are playing well.”
Crusaders took the lead in the 15th minute through Gary McCutcheon, who couldn’t miss from six yards out.
Heatley raced to the byline before providing the perfect cross for Jordan Owens, who headed home from inside the six yard box.
The third goal arrived a minute later as Heatley hit home.
McCutcheon scored Crusaders’ fourth goal of the game. Lively Ards winger Neil Dougan added a veneer of respectability to the scoreline in the 62nd minute, but game was already over as a contest.