Paul Heatley double keeps Crusaders purring along against Warrenpoint Town
Crusaders 2 Warrenpoint Town 0: Paul Heatley is back in business for Crusaders and after a frustrating start to the season he's starting to sparkle.
Warrenpoint Town fought like tigers in the rain at Seaview, but class told in the end and it was the former Carrick Rangers man who conjured up a delicious double.
Now 14 games unbeaten in all competitions and gearing up for a County Antrim Shield semi-final with Ballymena United at Seaview on Wednesday night, Stephen Baxter's title challenging machine is working smoothly.
"For myself it was a tough start to the season but now I think I'm stepping up a gear and helping the team," said Heatley.
"I want to get goals and wins and I'm doing that. The set-ups for both goals were fantastic. Chris Morrow put a wonderful ball in for the first, but he does that week in, week out and is instrumental in all the good work we do.
"David McMaster came off the bench and put in a wonderful ball for me to score again. I'm just grateful I was able to get them."
Heatley was also centre stage in the 71st minute when he was clattered by Stephen Moan.
Referee Tim Marshall didn't hesitate in flashing a straight red card at Moan, compounding Town's woes.
"There were a few strong tackles but you've got to expect that in the Irish League, pick yourself up and carry on," he said.
"I think the referee got decisions right. You can argue both ways with the sending off but when you go into a tackle that strongly with the studs showing it can be dangerous and you run the risk of getting sent off.
"Warrenpoint have been fantastic this season, taking points off top six teams and we knew it would be a tough game."
Heatley's first goal in the 65th minute was a clinical finish from a tight angle but the pass from Morrow and delicate touch from Gary McCutcheon in the build-up made it the game's most devastating move.
Six minutes later Moan was given his marching orders and Heatley slotted in his second in the 81st minute to seal the win.
Town boss Gray felt referee Tim Marshall said: "I don't feel we got the decisions we deserved."
CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Leeman, Magowan, Coates, E McAllister (McMaster, 68 mins), Morrow, Robinson, McCutcheon (Snoddy, 76 mins), McClean, Owens, Heatley (D McAllister, 84 mins). Unused subs: King, Cleary.
WARRENPOINT: J Parr, King, Cowan, D Hughes (Grant, 46 mins), S Hughes, McCabe, Smith (S Parr, 75 mins), Bagnall, M Hughes, Moan, Boyle. Unused subs: McGuigan, Havern, McMullan
Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown).