Paul Heatley relishing title battle with Crusaders

Adam McMinn gets away from Josh Robinson

Adam McMinn gets away from Josh Robinson

  • by John Simpson

Paul Heatley insists Crusaders are relishing the pressure that comes with leading the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Crues sit top of the table at the halfway point of the season after a hard-fought win at Stangmore Park on Saturday.

A first half strike from Heatley overcame a determined Dungannon side, stretching their unbeaten league run to 17 games.

Already fans are starting to dream that a 16-year title wait may be nearing an end.

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter was quick to point out that it is still relatively early in the campaign, and titles are not decided in December.

It may be an attempt to deflect from the pressure of expectation, however, Heatley insists the players are relaxed about their progress.

“You might argue that sitting just in the running, maybe second or third, is a better position to be in,” Heatley said.

“When you’re top of the league you are there to be targeted and there to be taken down a peg.

“We’ve experienced both sides this season. We have sat behind Linfield for quite a long duration of the season so far, and now we’ve been able to overtake them.

“We are there to be shot at, but we’re certainly enjoying the pressure that comes with that.”

The game’s only goal came in the 39th minute. A Dungannon attack broke down and, as the ball was pumped forward, Fra Brennan failed to cut out the danger, allowing Heatley to cut inside and fire home with a right foot shot.

It was Heatley’s fourth goal in three games – he has eight for the season overall.

Swifts boss Darren Murphy admitted it was an exasperating way to lose.

“It is down to concentration. Fra said he lost the flight of the ball because of the lights, for me he switched off,” he said.

“It is just a lack of concentration and it’s a poor goal to give away.”




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