Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders 3-1 Coleraine: Cool Jordan Owens pounces to equal Crues goal record

By David Mason

Jordan Owens last night equalled Crusaders' all-time scoring record in a crucial 3-1 win over Coleraine at Seaview.

The win sent out another message that Crusaders have no intention of relinquishing their Danske Bank Premiership title - they are now eight points clear at the top.

Second-half goals from Josh Robinson and Billy Joe Burns got them up and running before Owens' party piece.

They are now unbeaten in 19 games going into Boxing Day's showdown with north Belfast rivals Cliftonville, whose manager Gerard Lyttle was a spectator.

Coleraine's last league win at this venue was back in January 2010. Even though Ruairi Harkin managed to fire them level with a wonder strike - their first shot of the night - Oran Kearney's team never looked capable of improving on that horrible statistic.

It was hardly surprising that Crusaders asked all the early questions. Robinson struck a beauty in the first minute which flashed just over the crossbar.

Jordan Forsythe then blasted a 20-yard free-kick wide after Johnny Watt had taken out Owens.

The home side were out of luck on 18 minutes. Forsythe's corner was met by Owens, but his shot was hoofed off the line by Harkin. And they were again holding their heads in frustration two minutes later when Owens picked out Forsythe, whose blistering 25-yard drive crashed against the inside of the post.

Paul Heatley then burst into action, latching on to a Burns cross, but his header fizzed wide.

Just before the break, another Burns cross was cleverly cushioned by Declan Caddell, but Matthew Snoddy's spectacular scissor kick scraped past the post.

Crusaders finally broke the deadlock seconds after the break.

Again, Forsythe was involved. His monster long throw was helped on by the towering Owens for Robinson to convert.

The introduction of Gavin Whyte at half-time added a new impetus to the Crues. The flying winger tried his luck with a speculative shot from distance that rookie goalkeeper Andy Findlay was relieved to see flash past the post.

But against the odds, the Bannsiders were level on 58 minutes.

Snoddy's clumsy challenge on substitute Jamie McGonigle some 30 yards from goal gave Harkin the chance to try his luck. And he didn't disappoint as he hammered past Sean O'Neill.

But the visitors shot themselves in the foot two minutes later when Darren McCauley was adjudged to have handled the ball inside his own box and referee Raymond Hetherington immediately awarded a penalty kick.

Burns stepped up to confidently send Findlay the wrong way from the spot.

And Burns almost did it again six minutes later when Owens was bundled over by Stephen Douglas 20 yards out. This time the defender's free-kick skimmed inches past the post.

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.

Belfast Telegraph


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