Ballymena fail to last pace as Faulkner makes point for Crusaders
Crusaders 2 Ballymena Utd 2
Crusaders staged a second half fightback to snatch a point in this Carling Premiership battle at Seaview.
On this performance it is difficult to see how Roy Walker’s Ballymena United side are not higher up the table and they certainly dazzled in the opening half, securing a two-goal lead at the break when Andy Smith and Gavin Taggart hit the target.
But Stephen Baxter’s men rallied after the interval and two goals in four minutes from Martin Donnelly and Willie Faulkner wiped out the Sky Blues’ advantage.
The visitors survived early Crusaders pressure and hit the front in the 37th minute.
Aidan Watson played a clever through ball into the path of the on-rushing Smith and he rounded keeper Chris Keenan before rolling the ball into the empty net.
Two minutes later United doubled their lead and Watson was again the architect.
Mark Surgenor blocked a clearance and the ball broke to Watson who set up Gavin Taggart who finished magnificently, curling the ball wide of Keenan.
Just when it seemed Crusaders were going to have to accept defeat they won a free-kick just outside the box in the 68th minute.
Northern Ireland international Martin Donnelly fired the ball low to the left and it bounced off a post and into the net.
Four minutes later Faulkner raced onto a superb through ball from Aaron Black, swivelled inside the box and drilled the ball wide of keeper Dwayne Nelson.
Crusaders: Keenan, McKeown (Rainey, 45), McBride, Black, Magowan, Coates, Faulkner, Doherty, Owens, Arthurs (Caddell, 82), Donnelly
Ballymena United: Nelson, M Smith, Colligan, Stewart (Haveron, 69), Albert Watson, Taggart, Aidan Watson, Muir (Ramsey 72), A Smith, Kelbie (Lemon, 87), Surgenor
Referee: Raymond Heatherington (Dungannon)