Crusaders are more hungry than ever: Michael Carvill
Dungannon Swifts 0 Crusaders 1
Michael Carvill believes Crusaders have lost none of their hunger as they continue to chase a hat-trick of league titles.
The Crues retained their seven-point lead at the top of the table with this victory.
An 85th minute wonder strike from David Cushley saw them edge a hard-fought game at Stangmore Park.
It was the second time in a week that the midfielder had scored a late winner.
And Carvill believes it proves they are up for the fight as the season enters a crucial period.
"That's one thing about this team - we won't go down without a battle or a fight," he said.
"You need to have that in this league because it's a very physical league. It would be nice to win 3-0 or 4-0 every week, but even if you win 1-0, three points on the board is the main thing."
Carvill was one of several players who impressed against Dungannon.
Michael Gault fitted seamlessly into central defence, covering for the injured Colin Coates. Along with Howard Beverland, he kept a tight check on Andrew Mitchell, the Swifts' main threat.
Another clean sheet - the Crues' fifth in six games - provided the platform.
And Cushley, an 80th minute sub, was the match winner.
He scored direct from a free-kick, hammering his effort hard and low into the bottom corner from 30 yards.
Carvill felt the Crues did enough to deserve the points.
"I don't think Dungannon had a shot in the second half. Sean O'Neill didn't have anything to do," he added.
Crusaders have made a habit of scoring late in games this season. They did it against Ards the previous weekend, and netted twice in stoppage time to beat Cliftonville last month.
Dungannon were unable to build on the previous weekend's big win at Ballymena. They have just one victory in the league since October 8, but head coach Rodney McAree feels that doesn't tell the whole story.
"In that period we have had a tough run of games," he said.
"We drew away to Coleraine and we drew at home to Cliftonville, and while we have struggled to pick up wins it was always going to be very difficult for us."
DUNGANNON: Coleman, Burns, Hegarty, Armstrong, O'Rourke, Fitzpatrick (Burke, 86 mins), Wilson, Harpur, Lowe (Teggart, 86 mins), McElroy (Young, 89 mins), Mitchell. Unused subs: Addis, Roscoe
CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Gault, McClean, Carvill, Caddell, Whyte, Heatley (Cushley, 80 mins), Forsythe, Owens. Unused subs: Mitchell, Dougherty, Clarke, Jallow.
Referee: Steven Taylor (Belfast)
Man of the match: Howard Beverland
Match rating: 7/10