Crusaders title bid dented as Warrenpoint Town snatch draw
Warrenpoint Town 1 Crusaders 1: Tempers flared at Milltown, where the referee was forced to intervene during a heated exchange between the managers as 10-man Warrenpoint earned a battling draw against Crusaders.
After Paul Heatley had given the visitors a fifth minute lead, Darren King's foul on the lively winger earned a yellow card which the Crues bench claimed was lenient, accusing King of stamping on Heatley as he lay on the ground.
With Town boss Barry Gray and opposite number Stephen Baxter remonstrating with one another, ref Andrew Davey stepped in to calm the dispute – but did give King his marching orders just before the hour following another challenge on Heatley.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Warrenpoint responded well and bagged themselves a share of the spoils through Marty Havern's well-taken strike.
"For whatever reason, when it went to 10 men, it galvanised Warrenpoint and their two forwards were clever and got the ball into feet and held it up well on a very difficult day," said a frustrated Baxter.
"You couldn't pass the ball fluently and it got worse in the second half. But everyone put their hand to the wheel.
"The Warrenpoint people worked hard to get the game on and you play the game in front of you."
Warrenpoint: J Parr, King, Mulgrew (Grant, 64 mins), Boyle, Cowan, S Parr, Moan, Bagnall , M Hughes, S Hughes, Havern. Unused subs: Smith, McMullan.
Crusaders: O'Neill, Magowan, Coates, Leeman, McClean, Robinson, Caddell (Watson, 76 mins), Heatley, McCutcheon (McAllister, 73 mins), Owens (Adamson, 65 mins). Unused subs: Hanley, O'Hanlon.
Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor).