Belfast Telegraph

We're showing stuff of champions: Cushley

Crusaders 1 Ards 0

By Graham Luney

Crusaders fans must be starting to believe a hat-trick of Premiership title wins is inevitable as the footballing gods are on their side.

From last-minute penalty saves to injury-time winners, the champions know how to make the faithful suffer but still leave them smiling at the finish.

Stephen Baxter's men aren't carving teams open but that's partly because hard working sides like Ards adopt a policy of containment and a neutral observer at Seaview would admit they didn't deserve to lose.

But Crusaders don't give up even when they are below par and David Cushley, a 66th-minute substitute for Michael Carvill, had the last laugh as his powerful shot in added time found the net with the help of a deflection.

The former Ballymena United ace said: "Heats (Paul Heatley) was trying to claim it and there were a few deflections on the shot but that's what football is all about, it's what league champions are made of and it's why I came here.

"Teams will set up defensively against us but we got into our stride and we have a never say die attitude.

"We always feel we can get a goal. We weren't at our best and haven't been this last few weeks but credit to Ards, they came with a game plan and achieved what they wanted apart from getting the goal.

"Stephen (Baxter) said to the boys that there were five games last season when we picked up a point with a late goal and that's what champions are made of. The league is nowhere near over, we will concentrate on winning games. We can only beat who is in front of us."

There was a sad footnote to the game for the Crues as skipper Colin Coates is set for a spell on the sidelines after sustaining a nasty ankle injury.

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Coates (Gault, 39 mins), McClean, Clarke (Caddell, 55 mins), Forsythe, Carvill (Cushley, 66 mins), Heatley, Whyte, Owens. Unused subs: Dougherty, Mitchell.

Ards: Hogg, Hall, Friars, Taylor, McMullan, McCullough, Cherry, McMillen (Ruddy, 81 mins), McKinney, Douglas (McComb, 64 mins), McAllister (Arthurs, 32 mins). Unused subs: Brennan, Tommons.

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)

Man of the match: Billy Joe Burns

Match rating: 7/10

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