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Pleasure Crues

 

By Graham Luney

Crusaders have kept the destination of the Gibson Cup in their own hands going into the final two matches of a thrilling Danske Bank Premiership title race.

A 3-2 victory over Coleraine at Seaview last night ended the Bannsiders' stunning 17-match unbeaten run and even though Linfield cruised to a 3-0 win over Glenavon at Windsor Park, the champions hold a one-point advantage at the top.

"We're going to throw the kitchen sink at trying to retain the title," said Crues boss Stephen Baxter after a Paul Heatley double and Jordan Owens strike sunk a spirited Coleraine side who netted through James McLaughlin and Jamie McGonigle.

Aaron Burns, Mark Haughey and Paul Smyth were on target for David Healy's side against the Lurgan Blues but Crusaders, who visit Ballymena United this weekend before hosting Glenavon on the final day of the campaign, are hungry to secure a third consecutive title triumph and they can pop the champagne corks on Saturday if they beat the Sky Blues and Linfield lose at Coleraine.

At the other end of the Premiership table, Portadown's relegation to the Championship was confirmed after Niall Currie's side lost 3-2 at Ards.

"I think it's a very sad day for this club and the Irish League," reflected Currie.

Ballymena United thrashed Cliftonville 4-1 and Dungannon Swifts dished out the same punishment at Ballinamallard United, while Glentoran won 2-1 at Carrick Rangers.

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