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McAllister strike helps Crusaders see off Duns scare

Crusaders 2 Dundela 1

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Killer touch: Mark McAllister celebrates his equaliser for Crusaders against Dundela last night.  Photo: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Killer touch: Mark McAllister celebrates his equaliser for Crusaders against Dundela last night. Photo: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Killer touch: Mark McAllister celebrates his equaliser for Crusaders against Dundela last night. Photo: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Mark McAllister last night demonstrated just why Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter gambled by bringing the out-of-favour striker to Seaview in the summer. Frozen out by his former club, Portadown, the striker's football career appeared to be heading for the scrap heap until Baxter called.

He required merely 40 minutes to suggest that he has lost none of his guile in front of goal when he struck home a beauty to bring his team level.

Intermediate League side Dundela shocked the Crues in the BetMcLean League Cup first round tie by taking the lead through Jordan Hughes.

But McAllister eased the home fans' frustrations with his sublime strike before youngster Ryan Nimick nicked a second half winner.

"Mark still has a bit of work to do in terms of his fitness," said Baxter. "He certainly is working hard in training.

"He'll not be ready for league action for a few weeks yet, but he certainly produced a smart finish for his goal."

David Cushley forced Ryan McBride into a smart save on 10 minutes, the Duns' goalkeeper getting down to push the striker's shot past the post.

And, from Cushley's corner kick, Whyte sent in a thundering drive from the edge of the box, which was superbly flipped over the top by McBride.

Dundela stunned the home fans on 16 minutes by forging into the lead.

Bustling striker Mark McClelland laid off a clever pass to Hughes, who drilled an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner, with deputy shot stopper Michael Dougherty rooted to the spot.

Baxter's boys looked to repair the damage with Cushley drilling a 25-yard free kick from a difficult angle past the post after Jamie Glackin was bundled over by Jordan Morrison.

But the visitors were dangerous on the break.

Hughes turned provider on 24 minutes, picking out the unmarked Owain Beggs, who stung the hands of Dougherty from the edge of the box.

Crusaders quickly swept to the other end. Glackin tricked his way down the left and when his cross fell to Ryan Nimick, he failed to get enough on the ball to forced it past McBride.

Cushley was then right out of luck with a delicious 30-yard free kick that rattled the top of the crossbar after he was hauled down by a clumsy challenge from Beggs.

McAllister eased the home fans' nerves five minutes before the break with that slick finish.

He picked up a Gavin Whyte cross and, even though he had his back to goal, he turned quickly to sweep the ball home.

Stephen Baxter's half time team talk worked a treat as his team took the lead a mere 60 seconds after the restart.

Cushley whipped in a corner form the right and Nimick simply poked home from four yards, though the ball make have taken a final touch off Morrison.

But the Duns failed to throw in the towel and they really should have been level on 58 minutes.

David McAllister's corner kick landed on the boot of defender Ben Murdock, but he shamefully hoofed his effort high wide.

Crusades looked to the finish the job with a killer third goal, but McBride produced a wonderful flying save in order to keep out a blockbuster from Sean Ward

Crusaders: Dougherty, Beverland, Ward, McClean, Kerr, Snoddy, Glackin, Nimick (Forsythe 65), Whyte, Cushley, McAllister (Lowry 65). Unused subs: Carvill, Owens, Smith.

Dundela: McBride, King, Calvert (Brown 84), Devine (Irwin 80), Morrison, Murdock, McMaster, Beggs, Hughes (Black 68), McClelland, Burns. Unused subs:McCain, Browne.

Referee: Steven Gregg

Belfast Telegraph