Gavin Whyte (34)
David Cushley (40)

2

Tony Kane (78)

1

Jordan Owens and Jim Ervin battle for the ball (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/PressEye.com)

FIRST HALF GOALS ENOUGH FOR CRUES

Crusaders kept up their title challenge with this defeat of League Cup finalists Ballymena United at Seaview.

Stephen Baxter's side started brightly with Jordan Owens, Jordan Forsythe and Billy Joe Burns all having chances during the opening exchanges.

Indeed, that set the pattern for the first half with Owens coming closest to breaking the deadlock after being found by Michael Carvill only to see his shot deflected onto an upright.

However, Gavin Whyte did find a way through on 34 minutes after he beat a defender before sending a low shot past Ross Glendinning at the near post.

Then, six minutes later, David Cushley made it 2-0 with a deflected effort off Kyle Owens from the just outside the box.

And it could have been 3-0 on the stroke of half-time only for Colin Coates' header to ruled out for a foul on Leroy Millar.

Ballymena came out after the break with more purpose, pressing in an attempt to salvage something from the game and after a number of chances did pull a goal back through Tony Kane on 78 minutes with a trademark superbly executed free-kick from around 20 yards out.

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Coates, Lowry, Carvill, Cushley, Forsythe, McClean, Owens, Whyte subs Mitchell (not used), Holden (not used), Suarez (replaced Cushley 85), Clarke (not used), Keane (not used)

Ballymena United: Glendinning, T. Kane, Owens, Jenkins, Faulkner, Friel, Ervin, Millar, Braniff, McMurray, Loughran subs Flynn (replaced Ervin 90+3), McCloskey (not used), Allen (not used), McCaffrey (replaced T. Kane 90+2), Lowry (replaced McMurray 80)

Referee: Ross Dunlop

Attendance: 1294

Tags:  Ballymena United  Crusaders