Crues glad to silence Reds in local derby: Forsythe
Crusaders 1-0 Cliftonville
Jordan Forsythe felt that some disrespect from the Cliftonville camp helped stoke the Crusaders fire on Saturday.
Paul Heatley's early goal was enough to win a derby thriller at Seaview, a contest that had just about everything from a substitute being red-carded to a bust-up on the touchline.
But it was the hosts who were celebrating at the finish, knowing it was another precious three points keeping them firmly on track for back-to-back titles.
Billy Joe Burns' 63rd minute dismissal for a second booking meant Stephen Baxter's men had to dig deep and they did ride their luck at times but it is a significant step closer to the promised land.
Winger Forsythe, who rattled the crossbar with a second-half header, was happy to silence the Red Army.
"They said a few things over the week that disrespected our team a bit and it gave us the urge to push on and get the win," said the former Bangor ace.
"There were a few comments which I thought were more rambling on a bit but it's all about doing it on the pitch and we did work and thoroughly deserved to beat a very good team.
"It's all still to play for with 11 games left and you have to chalk off each game.
"Defensively, we were superb in the first-half despite it being tough in the wind but one to 11 we battled really hard.
"It's all about getting the three points and we knew they had to win this one.
"For us it's about winning each game and keeping ahead of the rest.
"In a north-Belfast derby you always get drama.
"It was a brilliant result considering we were down to 10 men for the last half hour.
"It's a hard job for the ref as every player will have a go at him but I try to accept the calls.
"There is still a massive amount of work to be done but this is a huge step forward.
"We have Warrenpoint next who have turned a corner and they look strong with a few boys added from Cliftonville and doing well."
Heatley's early finish followed a delicious long pass from Burns but the winger still showed tremendous composure to skip past keeper Conor Devlin and slot the ball home.
Referee Ross Dunlop showed 12 yellow cards - two of them to Burns - and even George McMullan saw red while warming up on the touchline for a verbal volley at the official.
The visitors should have equalised but Jay Donnelly's low strike sailed inches past the upright and they also had two decent penalty shouts ignored.
Burns escaped punishment after challenging Stephen Garrett while Johnny Flynn's drive appeared to strike the hands of Jordan Owens.
It was a feisty affair and it even boiled over when Jaimie McGovern and Flynn, who also had a header ruled out for offside, tried to retrieve the ball from near the Crues dugout.
Reds boss Gerard Lyttle felt his side were harshly treated by Dunlop.
"I don't think he was up for it and I don't like saying that because I think Ross is a great guy," said Lyttle.
"The fourth officials need to step up and help the referees make the right call. We'll have to take this defeat on the chin and fight on."