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Crusaders 2 Coleraine 0

The red mist descended at Seaview but the clinical finishing of Michael Halliday deserves to dominate the headlines.

On a day when Glentoran’s season suffered another nosedive with a shock defeat at home to Lisburn Distillery, one of their old boys fired Crusaders level on points with his former comrades.

Referee Raymond Hetherington showed a straight red card to Crues duo David Bell and goalkeeper Niall Murphy late in the contest but nothing should take the spotlight away from Halliday who displayed at least two solid reasons why manager Stephen Baxter was so desperate to bring him to Seaview.

The striker, who scored the winner against the Glens in the Shore Road showdown between the sides last month, is perhaps starting to believe that there is one more championship medal there for the taking.

While his former employers fight for their existence, Halliday and co. are breathing down their necks in the table and his arrival has clearly boosted Crusaders’ firepower.

“That was a polished performance from Michael Halliday,” said Baxter.

“His two finishes were simply sensational. The first one he caressed on his thigh and buried it, just what you pay money for, that type of player if you want to score some goals.

“His all-round performance was magnificent and he’s getting better and better.

“With David Rainey beside him I thought they were both hard to handle and excellent.”

The Crues boss added: “We had to reorganise after the sendings off with a midfielder in goals (Chris Morrow) and a centre-forward at left-back (David Rainey) but we saw it through quite easily and I think Coleraine had one shot on target all day.”

Coleraine were second best at Seaview but Platt hit out at Hetherington’s performance in the middle.

“We should have had a penalty when Murphy was sent off but that was just one of many decisions that the referee got wrong,” said Platt.

“I hate talking about things other than football and Coleraine but when are we going to get strong characters making the right decisions?

“Decisions went for and against us that I felt weren’t right and, in the end, they have cost us points.

“It is also a fact that we were depleted today, with a team sitting in the stand.

“I had to use kids with people shuffled all over the place but I’m pleased with how the players stuck to the task in the second half.”

Belfast Telegraph