CRUSADERS 2 LINFIELD 0
Two goals in the dying minutes saw Crusaders claim a massive 2-0 win over Linfield.
Gavin Whyte slotted home in the 89th minute and substitute Jordan Forsythe added a sublime second in the fourth minute of injury time as the champions prevailed at Seaview.
The win sees Stephen Baxter’s side stretch eight points clear at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership with just four games remaining.
It was a thrilling end to a tense top-of-the-table showdown on the Shore Road.
Linfield captain Andy Waterworth fired a shot inches past the post in the ninth minute.
At the other end Ross Glendinning fumbled Matthew Snoddy’s shot before Declan Caddell bundled the ball into the back of the net, but referee Paul Tuite adjudged Caddell to have fouled Glendinning in the build-up.
Heatley raced through on goal in the 11th minute but was foiled by the alert Glendinning, with Whyte’s follow-up shot going well wide.
The Crues finished the half strongly with Owens showing a deft touch to control Craig McClean’s long pass before sending a shot just past Glendinning’s post.
Linfield sparked into life in the second half and almost claimed the lead in the 58th minute.
Waterworth played in Stephen Lowry with a neat touch, but the midfielder’s shot was deflected onto the post by the advancing O’Neill.
Heatley showed great skill and endeavour to get past the challenges of Sean Ward and Lowry, but his shot was well saved by Glendinning in the 76th minute.
In the 81st minute Lowry’s free-kick was touched goalwards, but O’Neill was alert to palm the ball away.
The defining moment of the game arrived in the 89th minute.
A long ball forward seemed to squirm through the Linfield defence for Whyte to race onto, and with Glendinning rushing out of goal Whyte managed to deftly touch the ball past the Linfield goalkeeper and into the net.
It was 2-0 in the 94th minute when Crusaders countered from a Linfield corner.
Heatley picked up possession before passing to Forsythe on the left wing, and with Glendinning rushing back towards goal Forsythe delicately chipped the ball home from 25 yards.
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Burns, Coates, Robinson, McClean, Caddell (Forsythe 82), Snoddy, Mitchell, Owens, Heatley, Whyte.
Subs not used: Clarke, Carvill, O’Carroll, McKibbin.
LINFIELD: Glendinning, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Millar(Bates 73) , Ward, Clarke (McLellan 82), Mulgrew, Gaynor, Smyth (Fallon 85).
Subs not used: Lee, Quinn.
Referee: Paul Tuite (Dublin)