Paul Heatley strike seals Solitude victory for Crusaders

Crusaders Paul Heatley is delighted after scoring the winner
Crusaders Paul Heatley is delighted after scoring the winner

Paul Heatley was the hero as Crusaders claimed three north Belfast derby points at a sodden Solitude on Friday.

The winger struck with 60 minutes on the clock for the only goal of a contest which never really bubbled above anything more than tepid.

Visiting keeper Sean O’Neill got down well to deny Davy McDaid with just nine minutes on the clock and it wasn’t long before Cliftonville were forced into an early change when Jude Winchester was thrust into the action as Barry Johnston departed the scene on a stretcher with a suspected broken kneecap.

The opening goal arrived with 60 minutes on the clock; Whyte cutting the ball back for Heatley to stroke home the Crues’ first shot on target .

“We knew the importance of defending well and we did that,” said visiting boss Stephen Baxter.

“Richard Clarke and Declan Caddell competed superbly in the centre of the mark and our defenders did brilliantly to shackle Joe Gormley and Davy McDaid. I felt we managed things very well. It’s only three points, I’ve told the players that, but it’s three points on the back of a couple of decent results and we’ve put a good little run together.”

Opposite number Tommy Breslin, meanwhile, said: “I felt we limited Crusaders but we made wrong decisions at the other end.

“We had opportunities to shoot or passes to pick but just took the wrong choice too many times.”

CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, Scannell, Johnston, Curran, McDaid, M Donnelly, Smyth, Catney, Gormley, Cosgrove. Subs: Flynn, McMullan (Curran, 82 mins), Seydak, Winchester (Johnston, 12 mins), J Donnelly (M Donnelly, 69 mins).

CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Burns, Coates, McClean, Caddell, Clarke, Robinson, Whyte, Heatley, Adamson, Owens. Subs: Hanley, Snoddy (Whyte, 83 mins), Cockroft, Friars, O’Carroll (Adamson, 90 mins).

REFEREE: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)