Timmy Adamson bags the winner as Crusaders see off Dungannon Swifts at Seaview

Crusaders' Timmy Adamson (right) celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 against Dungannon Swifts
Crusaders' Timmy Adamson (right) celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 against Dungannon Swifts

Timmy Adamson hit a crucial winner to keep Crusaders on title track at chilly Seaview on Friday night.

The big striker struck in the first half with the victory taking the Shore Road boys to within a point of Danske Bank Premiership leaders Linfield.

It certainly wasn’t a vintage performance from Stephen Baxter’s team. It was the case of getting the job done and banking the three points.

Crusaders were without the suspended Colin Coates, while striker Jordan Owens had to pull out due to illness.

The scoreline certainly would have been a lot more convincing but for goalkeeper Andy Coleman who produced a remarkable display.

Although he had to admit defeat with that Adamson stunner 10 minutes before the break, he turned in a five star showing with a number of remarkable saves.

The usually lethal Paul Heatley missed a sitter after only six minute. After picking up an Adamson flick, the little winger left the Swifts defence trailing in his wake but his finish lacked conviction, blasting the ball wide.

Crusaders opened up the brittle visitors again with Billy Joe Burns bursting forward. His cross found Heatley, who was just about to pull the trigger when Douglas Wilson got back to mop up.

Dungannon had to wait until 24 minutes for their first serious raid forward and goalkeeper Sean O’Neill was relieved to see Andy Mitchell’s effort loop inches over the top.

But O’Neill earned his wages seconds later when he got down brilliantly to paw away a Ryan Harpur free kick that was sneaking in at the base of the post.

The home fans were celebrating the breakthrough strike on 35 minutes. Craig McClean’s deep cross picked out Adamson and he sent the ball thundering past Andy Coleman with the flick of his head.

Teenage sensation Gavin Whyte almost made it two second later. He danced his way into the box, leaving Cameron Grieve and Davy Armstrong hopelessly in his wake, but Coleman was off his line like a flash to save.

Baxter’s boys went close again just before the interval when Diarmuid O’Carroll threaded an inch perfect pass into the past of the long striding Burns on the right, but there was no one on hand to finish his low cross.

Crusaders went looking for a killer second goal and Adamson came close to easing the tension in the grandstand, but he hooked Emmet Friars’ cross side of the mark.

Adamson turned provider, cutting the ball back for Richard Clarke, whose stinging drive scraped post the post.

Whyte missed a sitter on 65 minutes minutes after being sent clear by O’Carroll, but Coleman produced yet another magnificent save, beating the ball to safety.

The Swifts were let off the hook 17 minutes from time. Coleman managed to keep out an Adamson header following Clarke’s corner kick and the big striker could only blast the rebound against the crossbar.

With the clock ticking down, defender Cameron Grieve came to his team’s rescue when he headed a Heatley shot off the line.

Crusaders: O’Neill, Burns, Friars, Robinson, McClean, Clarke, Caddell, Whyte, Heatley, Adamson, O’Carroll.

Subs: O’Hanlon, McCutcheon, Snoddy, Dillon, Cockcroft.

Dungannon Swifts: Coleman, Lowe, Armstrong, Wilson, Grieve, McCullough (Lavery 65), Hazley (Sansui 65), Hutchinson, Harpur, Mitchell (Liggett 80), Glackin.

Subs: Fitzpatrick, Burns.

Referee: I McNabb (Newtownabbey).