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Crues eye Europa place after return to winning ways

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Goalscorer: Philip Lowry hit Crusaders’ first on Saturday

Goalscorer: Philip Lowry hit Crusaders’ first on Saturday

�INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Goalscorer: Philip Lowry hit Crusaders’ first on Saturday

It wasn't pretty in the swirling winds on the Shore Road and it's a bit early to say Crusaders are back in business but at least they have rediscovered that winning feeling after a terrible February.

With League Cup and Irish Cup dreams over and their title bid hanging by a thread, there's extra focus on grabbing a Europa League place with a strong finish in the Premiership.

And when Institute scored through Conor Tourish after only 70 seconds the fans were reaching for the panic button, but an inspired second half showing saw off the basement battlers.

Philip Lowry and Paul Heatley deserved their goals while Rory Hale showed again what a little midfield magician he is.

It's a victory that should restore some badly needed confidence to the Crues but whether the players will salvage a European place from the season is up for debate.

Assistant boss Jeff Spiers said: "I'd like us to get back into the title race but we would need to win our next two games.

"There's 15 points still to play for and we will be aiming for that.

"The players were man enough to admit that they weren't doing their jobs in the first half and they stuck their hands up. But fair play, they showed their quality in the second half."

CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, Lowry, McGonigle (Clarke, 82 mins), Hale, Cushley (Owens, 46 mins), Ruddy, Brown, Heatley, McElroy (Thompson, 84 mins), Dummigan. Unused subs: Shields, Caddell, O'Rourke, McGinley.

Institute: Brown, C McLaughlin, Curry, Tourish, B McLaughlin, McCauley, Tweed, Brogan, Pomeroy (De Carne, 71 mins), Henry (Crown, 62 mins), Walsh (Morrow, 82 mins). Unused subs: McCann, Obhakan, Burke, Carty.

Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon).

Man of the match: Rory Hale

Match rating: 7/10.

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