WARRENPOINT 1 CRUSADERS 1
Warrenpoint were denied a famous win at home to Crusaders after Diarmuid O’Carroll converted an injury time penalty to earn Stephen Baxter’s men a point at Milltown.
Mark Hughes looked to have given the home side victory with his late strike before Josh Robinson was sent off, and then O’Carroll took his chance form 12 yards after Paul Heatley was fouled.
A scrappy first half saw clear-cut chances few and far between and although Warrenpoint saw plenty of the ball, it was the Crues who had the better of the opportunities in the opening 45 minutes.
Declan Caddell’s ninth minute shot from 20 yards was easily held by ‘Point keeper Jonny Parr before Crues captain Colin Coates did likewise with his header from Michael Carvill’s corner two minutes later.
Heatley went closest shortly after the quarter of an hour mark when he headed over Jordan Forsythe’s cross before three bookings in the space of five minutes for Warrenpoint’s Liam Bagnall and John McGuigan and Crusaders’ Craig McClean made the play become even more fractured than it already was.
The final chance of a tepid first period arrived nine minutes before the break when Carvill crossed from the right hand side but Forsythe could only direct his header over Parr’s crossbar as the half drew to a close.
Matthew Snoddy had the first chance of the second half shortly before the hour when his shot from the edge of the box wrongfooted Parr but flew just past the left hand post.
The longer the game wore on, the more the home side came into it and they served warning of what was to come with two chances in the same move on 71 minutes.
Martin Murray’s diagonal ball picked out John McGuigan inside the area and his left foot sidefoot volley forced Sean O’Neill into a superb save low to his left. The ball came out to Stephen Murray and his shot back across goal was cleared off the line by Josh Robinson.
However, it took less than 60 seconds more for Barry Gray’s men to take the lead. Left back Mark Hughes burst forward from the flank and let fly with a low shot from his weaker right foot and it flew into the bottom right corner of the net to make it 1-0.
Crsuaders almost levelled just a couple of minutes later when Caddell found himself through in the Warrenpoint box but, stretching, he couldn’t get enough on the ball to divert it past Parr.
Crusaders were then reduced to ten men with three minutes remaining when Robinson was shown a straight red card for a cynical trip on McGuigan who was bearing down on goal.
Crusaders were handed lifeline two minutes into stoppage time when Heatley went down in the area under the challenge of Liam Bagnall. Referee Evan Boyce pointed to the spot and sub O’Carroll slotted home the penalty.
Warrenpoint Town: Parr, Clarke, McVeigh, McGuigan, McDonald, Bagnall, M Hughes, Moan, S Murray (McMurray 77), Dane, M Murray (Mulvenna 90)
Subs not used: S Hughes, Boyle, Donnelly
Crusaders: O’Neill, Mitchell (Clarke 82), Coates, Caddell, Owens, Forsythe, Heatley, Snoddy (Whyte 69), Carvill (O’Carroll 82), Robinson, McClean
Subs not used: Magowan, McKibben
Referee: Evan Boyce