Michael Carvill (23)
Rory Patterson (32)
Jordan Forsythe (67)
Declan Caddell (90 1)

4

Gareth Tommons (33)
Gareth Tommons (56)

2

Rory Patterson turns to celebrate scoring for Crusaders on his debut (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)

CHAMPIONS CRUES OFF TO WINNING START

Champions Crusaders kicked off their Danske Bank Premiership title defence with a thrilling 4-2 defeat of Ards at Seaview.

Visitors Ards started brightly with Kym Nelson curling a free-kick just wide of the far post as early as the second minute while, at the other end, Paul Heatley found himself through on goal but the danger was well dealt with by keeper Samuel Johnston.

Further chances for the Crues came via Billy Joe Burns, Ross Clarke and Jordan Forsythe before, on 23 minutes, Michael Carvill broke the deadlock with a left-foot finish after Clarke had teed him up.

Then, nine minutes after later, Rory Patterson marked his Crusaders debut with a goal after turning to fire past Johnston from Philp Lowry's lay-off.

But it only took Ards around sixty seconds to pull one back through skipper Gareth Tommons after a momentary lapse in the Crues defence in dealing with David McAllister's cross.

Crusaders squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to restore their two-goal advantage eight minutes later. Heatley was impeded by Johnston just inside the area but from the spot-kick that followed Patterson failed to double his tally by lifting the ball over the bar.

However, Ards levelled on 56 minutes with Tommons' second of the night with a composed first time finish after Jonny Frazer had delivered a low cross from the right.

There was another twist on 67 minutes when the Crues regained the lead courtesy of a superb Forsythe headed finish from a Clarke corner.

Ards were then reduced to ten men on 80 minutes after Josh Kelly picked up a second booking of the game for a challenge on Patterson.

Crusaders secured the points in stoppage time via substitute Declan Caddell after meeting a Clarke corner with a header into the ground before the ball bounced into the opposite corner.

BBC Sport NI coverage

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Coates, Lowry, Carvill, Forsythe, Brown, Heatley, Clarke, Patterson subs McChrystal (not used), Caddell (replaced Lowry 64), K. Owens (not used), Ruddy (not used), Snoddy (replaced Patterson 87), Doherty (not used), Cushley (replaced Carvill 64)

Ards: Johnston, Byers, Elebert, Frazer, D. McAllister, J. Kelly, Noble, Tommons, McClean, Nelson, McAleenan subs Mooney (not used), E. McAllister (replaced Byers 87), Cherry (replaced Nelson 67), M. Kelly (not used), McLellan (replaced Noble 80), Mitchell (not used), Torrens (not used)

Referee: Tony Clarke

Attendance: 1216

Tags:  Ards  Crusaders