CRUSADERS 2 DUNGANNON SWIFTS 0
Paul Heatley’s magical double strike rescued Crusaders at Seaview.
Stephen Baxter’s team huffed and puffed but never looked likely to break down a resolute Dungannon Swifts until Heatly’s second half five-minute double whammy..
The victory keeps the Crues on Danske Premiership title track, moving them five points clear of Linfield. Both teams are due to clash in what could be a title showdown on April 9.
Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter wielded the axe following the shock midweek defeat at Carrick Rangers, handing David Magowan, Andrew Mitchell, Matthew Snoddy and Michael Carvill starting slots in place of the suspended Josh Robinson, Richard Clarke, Dairmuid O’Carroll and Declan Caddell.
With striker Andrew Mitchell suspended after picking up a second yellow for what his manager described as ‘stupity’ for kicking the ball away in last week’s win at Coleraine, Rodney McAree promoted Cormac Burke to lead the attack.
The Crues went in search of an early opener with Carvill blasting an early effort over the crossbar.
Carvill was again in the thick of things on 10 minutes when Snoddy’s cross was flicked on at the back post by Owens and the little midfielder’s spectacular scissors kick flashed inches over.
Owens asked the first questions of Swifts goalkeeper Andy Coleman on 31 minutes when he met a Snoddy cross, but his downward header was pawed to safety by the shot stopper.
But Owens had en even better chance six minutes from the interval. Another Snoddy cross found the striker with time and space at the back post, but again Coleman again managed to push the effort into the side netting.
The Crues roared from the traps after the break with Coleman pushing Heatly’s low shot wide. And from Mitchell’s corner kick, Jordan Forsythe’s powerful header crashed against the inside of the post.
But the Swifts missed a glorious opportunity of breaking the deadlock on the hour when Alan Teggart latched on to a cute flIck-on from Cormac Burke and, with only Sean O’Neill to beat, he shamefully blazed his shot over the top.
Crusaders at last got achieved the breakthrough on 69 minutes. Forsythe’s ball through the middle came off the heel of Chris Hegarty and Heatley rammed a 20 yard shot into the bottom corner.
And, Heatley did it again five minutes later. This time he curled home a beauty from 20 yards, having spotted Coleman off his line.
Crusaders: O’Neill, Burns, Magowan, Coates, McClean, Mitchell, Forsythe (O’Carroll 71), Snoddy, Carvill, Owens, Heatley.
Subs not used: Stewart, Holden, Clarke, McKibbin.
Dungannon Swifts: Coleman, Hegarty, Armstrong, Wilson, Glackin, Hazley (Liggett 71), Harpur, Teggart, Burns, Burke, McCaffrey.
Subs not used: Addis, Fitzpatrick, Montgomery, O’Rourke.
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan).