IRISH LEAGUE: Crusaders take points with deserved win at Warrenpoint

Warrenpoints Mark Hughes  in action with Crusaders Paul Heatley
Warrenpoints Mark Hughes in action with Crusaders Paul Heatley

WARRENPOINT TOWN 1 CRUSADERS 3

Crusaders maintained their lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership with a well –earned win away to bottom side Warrenpoint Town with most of the damage done in a slick first half performance from the visitors.

A Jordan Forsythe double and a Paul Heatley penalty were enough to see off the Point who did pull one back courtesy of Daniel Hughes but fell to their eleventh league defeat in a row.

It took just seven minutes of the match for the champions to gain a foothold on proceedings as they took the lead from the penalty spot.

The livewire Paul Heatley cut in from the right flank and ran across the box only to be brought down by Mark Hughes who dived in to tackle. Referee Tim Marshall had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Heatley picked himself up and dusted himself off to send Aaron Shanahan the wrong way from 12 yards to make it 1-0 to the visitors.

Heatley was instrumental again just four minutes later when he popped up on the left hand side this time and with Shanahan coming racing out of his goal, the forward got there first but his cross with the keeper out of his area was cleared by Mark Hughes.

Warrenpoint did have chances of their own in the first half and they came close to levelling on 12 minutes when Conor McDonald raced onto a long ball over the top but Sean O’Neill advanced off his line quickly to smother the effort.

At the other end, Heatley picked up a poor kick out from Shanahan but shot wide on 18 minutes before the Crues doubled their advantage six minutes later.

Michael Carvill burst down the left and with Shanahan again AWOL, the winger’s cross was inch-perfect to find Jordan Forsythe steaming in to crash the ball into the empty net from close range to make it 2-0 to Stephen Baxter’s men.

The more the half wore on, the more the hosts looked like getting back into the match and any joy they had stemmed from long balls over the top to utilise the pace of Daniel Hughes and Mark McCabe.

It was one such move which led to their best chance of the half on 31 minutes with Hughes going clear on the right and making his way into the box. O’Neill again came out quickly to get a block on the shot before David Magowan cleared with McCabe ready to tuck away the rebound.

The Shore Road men could have gone even further in front just three minutes into the second half with Heatley again the creator-in-chief.

Carvill slipped the ball to him on the right and his low cross found Jordan Owens moving into the area but the striker could only shoot wildly over from 15 yards when he would have expected to have done better.

They did make it three on 66 minutes with Forsythe getting his second of the afternoon with a bullet of a strike. Crusaders were awarded a free-kick just outside the box on the left hand side and when Richard Clarke rolled it to the right, Forsythe unleashed a stinging shot that went through the wall and while Shanahan did get a hand to it, he was only able to push it into the roof of the net to make it 3-0.

Barry Gray’s side did pull one back 17 minutes from time with a cleverly taken free-kick from Daniel Hughes. Awarded a free kick just outside the area on the right, Hughes deceived everyone including Sean O’Neill, by curling the ball low round the outside of the wall and into the net via the inside of the right hand post .

Warrenpoint Town: Shanahan, Bagnall, M Hughes, King, Donnelly, Kierans, McCabe, D Hughes, McDonald, Dane, Boyle

Subs not used: Murphy, S Hughes, Clarke, Murray, Moan

Crusaders: O’Neill, Burns, Magowan, Coates, McClean, Clarke (Caddell 85), Snoddy, Carvill (Robinson 68), Forsythe, Owens, Heatley

Subs not used: Caddell, O’Carroll, O’Flynn, Whyte

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)