Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders 2-1 Linfield: Paul Heatley nets stunner as Crues earn a little revenge

By Gareth Hanna

Crusaders' Paul Heatley netted a spectacular goal that turned out to be the winner as they edged out Linfield 2-1.

It was a result that helped lay to rest the defeats of last season. Linfield had won four of the six meetings between the clubs, including an Irish Cup tie, County Antrim Shield final and two crunch league games.

It was also Linfield's first defeat in 28 domestic fixtures as Heatley added to Forsythe's strike while Mark Stafford's second half goal proved scant consolation for Linfield.

It was good news for Coleraine too, who are three clear of both the Crues and the Blues at the top of the table.

Crusaders totally dominated the first 45 and two impressive strikes proved their just reward.

It took 25 minutes for Jordan Forsythe to blast a finish into the top corner after Paul Heatley had teed him up perfectly. It was a goal made easier by Linfield defender Chris Casement's untimely slip.

In truth, the Blues' defence didn't help their cause throughout that first period. Heatley slammed home the second on 32 minutes - an outstanding half-volley from 20 yards out. Even that, as spectacular as it was, seemed far too easy as a long ball was allowed to bounce for Heatley to pounce.

A header over from Jordan Owens, a save from Roy Carroll and a Rodney Brown long-range drive that whistled narrowly over threatened to make it more before the break.

Linfield were undoubtedly stronger at the start of the second half, not that that says much, and they would get some reward.

It took until 71 minutes for it come but eventually Aaron Burns found the space to cut a cross in for Mark Stafford to tap home a goal the centre-back richly deserved for what was a bright individual performance.

Linfield's flow was a little more disrupted after that goal and, marshalled by Colin Coates, the Crues defence saw out a narrow, but important, victory.

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