| 8.9°C Belfast

Ballinamallard United 1 - 2 Crusaders: Crues win puts the heat on Reds

Close

Tough tackler: Crusaders' David Magowan battles with Ryan Campbell of Ballinamallard

Tough tackler: Crusaders' David Magowan battles with Ryan Campbell of Ballinamallard

Tough tackler: Crusaders' David Magowan battles with Ryan Campbell of Ballinamallard

Crusaders climbed up to third in the Danske Bank Premiership thanks to a 2-1 victory over Ballinamallard United.

And with a derby trip to leaders Cliftonville on Saturday, the Crues now have an opportunity to move to within four points of their north-Belfast rivals in the title race.

Crusaders appeared to be in control of the game when Gary McCutcheon doubled their lead early in the second half after Timmy Adamson had given them the lead at half-time.

However, Ballinamallard responded and Mark Stafford finished from close range to get the home side right back into the game.

Despite pushing hard for an equaliser, Whitey Anderson's side could find no way through as Crusaders hung on for the win that takes them above Portadown.

Ballinamallard made the brighter start to the contest with Ryan Campbell and Liam Martin looking lively in attack.

Campbell fired a shot in from the edge of the box that forced a good save out of Sean O'Neill. Both Campbell and teenager Johnny Courtney had further efforts although neither really troubled the goalkeeper.

Crusaders began to come more into the game and they were close to taking the lead in the 19th minute when a ball from the right was missed by Alvin Rouse in the Mallards goal. Nigel Beacom saved his keeper's blushes as he made a crucial tackle on Nathan Hanley as he looked certain to tuck the ball home at the back post.

McCutcheon then went close with a glancing header that flew narrowly wide although the home side continued to find openings. Campbell got through on goal but took too long to get his shot away and Craig McClean got back to make the challenge.

The opening goal of the game came on 35 minutes. Richard Clarke fed Adamson and he drilled a low left footed shot into the bottom corner of Rouse's net from the edge of the box.

McClean then had a header pushed over the bar by Rouse and at the other end it took a superb stop from O'Neill to ensure that Crusaders went in with the lead at the interval.

A tidy interchange of passes on the right between Campbell, John Currie and Courtney saw Courtney find Martin, but O'Neill got down to push his close range shot around the post.

Crusaders doubled their advantage two minutes into the second half as Matthew King's ball from the right was superbly laid off by Owens for McCutcheon to calmly slot away past Rouse.

The Mallards went close to pulling a goal back shortly after, but Stafford's header from a Cathal Beacom corner was cleared off the line by Aidan Watson.

Adamson nearly made it three for the Crues with a delightful chip but Rouse stretched to push it over the top.

Ballinamallard were back in the game in the 69th minute when Kee's corner led to a scramble in the Crusaders goalmouth with Stafford forcing the ball home.

Stafford was close to an equaliser but he failed to keep his shot down from a Campbell knock down as the home outfit piled on the pressure, but Crusaders held on to clinch the win.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: Rouse, Keohane, Stafford, Kee, Currie (McManus 74 mins), Feeney, C. Beacom (McCartney 60 mins), N. Beacom, Campbell, Courtney, Martin (Crawford 74 mins). Subs: Murphy, McMenamin.

CRUSADERS: O'Neill, King, McClean, Robinson, Magowan, Clarke, Watson, Hanley (D McAllister 78 mins), Adamson (E McAllister 90 mins), Owens, McCutcheon (Snoddy 87 mins). Subs: McMaster, Dempster.

Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor).

Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.

Already have an account?

Belfast Telegraph