Ballinamallard United 0 Crusaders 2
Paul Heatley struck two superb second half goals as Crusaders moved up to third spot in the Danske Bank Premiership with victory away to high flying Ballinamallard United.
Heatley opened the scoring with a well struck drive on the hour mark after Gary McCutcheon had clipped the ball into his path on the left hand side of the box.
And the former Carrick Rangers player made sure of the points seven minutes from time, a tidy first touch setting him up for an excellent dipping volley to end Ballinamallard's six game winning run in the league.
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter was delighted with the winger's display on the day.
“He has got that quality about him and that's why we brought him to the club,” he said.
“We saw a lot of him last year and we knew that he would get goals. We had to find someone to replace Stuart Dallas and that wasn't going to be an easy task but this young man is full of hunger, full of desire, full of work-rate and full of quality. He has a wonderful left foot, he knows where the net is and those are the players you pay in to watch.”
Crusaders are in a rich vein of form at the minute with the win at Ferney Park seeing them record a third successive league victory and, with only four points separating them and league leaders Cliftonville, Baxter says that they are in a good position.
“That's three good wins,” he added.
“Glentoran, Cliftonville and Ballinamallard was always going to be a tough run and to take nine points out of it is pleasing and puts us into the position that we want to be in.
“It's three good results on the spin but I would expect that from our team because, when they play well, they are a good side.”
And Baxter felt that his men had to be at their best on Saturday to overcome a stubborn Ballinamallard outfit.
“I was delighted with the overall performance for the 90 minutes,” he stated.
“It was a tough first half, both teams were feeling each other out, and the second half performance was top drawer. We restricted them to very little and we've probably created six or seven chances to score and we've got two.
“We had to stand up to the test, it's a tough place to come with the way they have been playing. They are a well organised team, strong defensively and put their heads on everything but we had that wee bit of extra quality in the final third. Going forward we got about the business of trying to open them up in the second half and we did that well and I think we ran out worthy winners.”
The defeat saw Ballinamallard's short stay at the top of the table come to an end with Whitey Anderson's side dropping to second place due to Cliftonville's victory over Dungannon Swifts.
However, Anderson (pictured) felt that it took two terrific strikes to undo his side as their winning run was finished.
“The run was going to come to an end some time and we were beaten by two quality strikes,” he said.
“I didn't think there was much in the game to be honest. In the first half we cancelled each other out and we maybe gave them too much space in the second half but the two goals they scored were two quality goals.
“We have a lot more positives to take out of it than we do negatives. We're disappointed to have lost but we've had a fantastic run and we will just move on now and focus on the next game,” he said.