IRISH LEAGUE: Crusaders stay on track after beating Dungannon Swifts

Crusaders Paul Heatley heads in at the back post to make it 1-0
Crusaders Paul Heatley heads in at the back post to make it 1-0

Crusaders maintained their title charge with a comfortable win at Stangmore Park on Friday night.

The league leaders made it six straight victories in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Two first half goals from Paul Heatley and Colin Coates gave Stephen Baxter’s side a commanding half-time advantage.

Dungannon pulled one back late on, but Crusaders held on.

The Crues went in front in the 10th minute.

Craig McClean sent a free-kick into the box which was touched on by Jordan Owens, and Heatley headed home from close range.

Dungannon’s main threat was coming from January signing Thomas Lockhart, who delivered a couple of cracking balls from the left wing.

The Crues doubled their lead in the 35th minute.

Jordan Forsythe delivered a pinpoint cross and Coates rose highest in the box to power home a header.

Dungannon went close at the end of the first half.

Mitchell turned well on the 18 yard line, with his shot palmed around the post by goalkeeper Michael Dougherty.

Crusaders went in search of further goals after the restart.

Whyte went close, meeting a cross with a sweet low shot, but Coleman got down to make a smart stop.

Otherwise the game was proving to be a non-event.

Dungannon introduced Peter McMahon and Cormac Burke as they sought a breakthrough, but the Crues remained in control.

Another cross from Lockhart flashed dangerously across the box, but no-one from the home side could get a touch.

With 13 minutes remaining the Swifts pulled a goal back.

Peter McMahon crossed to fellow sub Cormac Burke, the goalkeeper tried to save but the force of the shot took it past him.

Dungannon stepped up the pressure in the closing minutes but they couldn’t get the second goal they needed.

DGN SWIFTS: Coleman, Burns (Burke, 48), Hegarty, Armstrong, O’Rourke, Wilson, Harpur, Lockhart (Teggart, 82), McElroy (McMahon, 57), Glackin, Mitchell

Subs not used: Addis, Lowe

CRUSADERS: Dougherty, Burns, Beverland, Coates, McClean, Carvill (Lowry, 74), Caddell (Clarke, 86), Whyte, Heatley, Forsythe, Owens

Subs not used: Suarez, Cushley, Keane

Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)