Davy Rainey’s eighth goal of the season fired Crusaders into second spot in the Carling Premiership.
His 73rd minute strike settled a low key Seaview slog against Coleraine, with the Crues less than impressive despite a tongue-lashing from boss Stephen Baxter after last weekend’s inept display at Ballymena United
Home keeper Chris Keenan was forced to go full stretch to turn away a well struck shot from Rory Patterson when Stephen Carson found him in space.
Crusaders eased their way back into the game and David O'Hare had to make a second stab at retrieving Stephen McBride's enticing right wing cross.
Keenan had to be sharp again to take Jody Tolan's close range header after Patterson's cross had been headed to the near post by Gareth Tommons and he was instantly in the action again when his clearance was charged down by Carson who elected to try and round the keeper, but lost possession as Keenan atoned for his error.
Before the break Tolan headed a Tommons cross into side netting and at the other end a rash challenge by Michael Hegerty left Rainey on the deck. Crusaders skipper Colin Coates shook off his marker to glance a diving header on Donnelly's resulting free-kick just wide from six yards.
Patterson was left kicking himself early in the second period as John Watt’s cross from the right created an opening, but after swivelling to line up the shot he directed the ball straight at Keenan.
Crusaders hit back with a spell of pressure. Jordan Owens squandered three chances to break the deadlock before they finally found the net after Keenan had blocked a Patterson attempt.
Mark Dickson’s initial shot was only partially cleared and Rainey guided the rebound past O’Hare from 15 yards.
However, the Crues almost threw it away five minutes from the end. Gareth McKeown was forced to clear off the line after Keenan had turned substitute David McClements’ late effort towards his own goal.
Crusaders: Keenan, McKeown, McBride, Magowan, Coates, McCann, Dickson, Rainey, Donnelly (Caddell 83), Morrow, Owens.
Coleraine: O'Hare, Hegarty, Watt, Mukendi, McVey, Tommins, Harkin, McCallion (McClements 80), Carson, Tolan (Gibson 76), Patterson.
Referee: Alan Black (Antrim).