Mark Dickson fired his first goal for Crusaders on Saturday to send the Hatchetman charging into the top three.
The summer signing from Linfield hit Lisburn Distillery with a sucker-punch injury-time winner to win the battle of the sides hoping to break up the Big Three.
But by the time Dickson had curled his strike past Alex Spackman, the game should have been dead and buried but the Crues conspired to miss chance after chance.
And despite the euphoria of putting a major rival to the sword, Dickson has urged caution in his side’s appraisal.
“I was delighted to finally get off the mark for the Crues but the win was the most important thing,” said Dickson.
“Distillery is always a difficult place to pick up points but we should have won by a lot more.
“The fact that we didn’t kill the game off is something we now have to work on.
“There is no point in sitting back and thinking the job is done because we won.
“It was a good three points but we know we can improve and that is what we plan to do each week, but of course we are happy with our start.”
After spurning a handful of chances, Stephen Baxter’s men took the lead when David Rainey came in unmarked at the back post on 41 minutes to stab home a corner that had been flicked on.
The Whites improved in the second half and a fine finish from Gary Browne on 68 minutes looked to have earned them a point that at one stage seemed remote before Dickson struck the winner.
Seaview boss Stephen Baxter was a relaxed man after the game, some will be surprised that his side have started so well, many will not because they have signed well over the summer.
“We made no excuse about our squad,” said Baxter. “We looked at three or four positions in the team and said that if were going to do anything that we would have to get better players into the squad to compete with the better teams.
“I feel we did that bringing in Gareth McKeown, Mark Dickson, Aaron Black and young Martin Donnelly. Those four guys have brought a new dimension to the team, they have settled much quicker than I thought they would and that’s probably the reason we are playing nice football.”
Counter–part Paul Kirk pulled no punches after a first-half performance he described as “totally abysmal”.
“We’re conceding goals and when you concede goals you don’t win games of football — we can’t score three goals every week to win games of football,” said an angry Kirk afterwards.
“We turned up in the second half but we didn’t turn up in the first half. There are going to be changes, no doubt about it.”