CRUSADERS 3 COLERAINE 1
Jordan Owens was the toast of Seaview on Friday night as he equalled Crusaders’ all-time scoring record.
The big 26-year-old gobbled up his 14th goal of the season that brought him level with Glenn Hunter on 157 strikes.
The win moved the champions eight points clear of north Belfast rivals Cliftonville.
Josh Robinson gave the champions the lead before Ruairi Harkin blasted in a stunning free-kick to draw Coleraine level.
Billy Joe Burns restored Crusaders’ lead from the penalty spot before Owens settled the issue with 12 minutes remaining.
Stephen Baxter’s boys roared from the traps with Robinson firing just over the crossbar in the opening minute.
Crusaders were doing all the pressing. They went close again when Forsythe’s corner kick was met by Owens, but his shot was bundled off the line by Harkin.
The home team were right out of luck on 20 minutes. Burns’ cross was nudged on by Owens to Forsythe, whose rammed a glorious 25-yard shot a against the inside of the post.
Little Paul Heatley then burst into action, latching on to a Burns cross, but his flick header arrrowed inches past.
The home fans were on their feet celebrating the opening goal only seconds into the new half.
Forsythe’s long throw in was cleverly flicked on by Owens for Robinson to finish from close range.
Incredibly, Coleraine were level with their first effort at goal on 58 minutes.
Snoddy’s clumsy challenge on substitute Jamie McGonigle earned a free-kick 30 yards from goal and Harking stepped up to ram home a beauty past a startled Sean O’Neill.
However, the title holders were back in front within two minutes when referee Raymond Hetherington awarded a penalty kick after an apparent hand ball offence by Darren McCauley.
Burns stepped up to send rookie goalkeeper Andy Findlay the wrong way.
But the biggest cheer of the night arrived 12 minutes from time when keeper Findlay spilled a Craig McClean cross, leaving big Owens with a tap in to equal the club’s scoring record.
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Burns, Magowan, Coates, McClean, Forsythe, Caddell (Whyte 46), Robinson, Heatley (Clarke 91), Snoddy, Owens (O’Flyn 89).
Subs not used: O’Carroll, Carvill.
COLERAINE: Finlay, Kane (Mullan 52), Watt, Douglas, Falconer, Parkhill, Harkin, Higgins, Brown (Lyons 70), McLaughlin (McGonigle 46), McCauley. Subs not used: McCafferty, Morrow.
REFEREE: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon)