Gavin Whyte (10)
Paul Heatley (56)
Paul Heatley (58)

3

The celebrations begin as Paul Heatley makes it 2-0 (Picture: Cameron Hamilton/PressEye.com)

CRUES CLINCH BACK-TO-BACK TITLES

Crusaders retained their Danske Bank Premiership crown this evening with victory over neighbours Cliftonville at Solitude.

The Crues almost snatched the lead on seven minutes when, following a botched Peter Burke save, Matthew Snoddy's effort was cleared off the line by Caoimhin Bonner.

But that proved to be a temporary stay of execution for the Reds when, just two minutes after that, Gavin Whyte did open the scoring when he nipped in after a poor Burke clearance allowed him to dispossess Johnny Flynn.

Indeed, the Crues could have extended their advantage before the break, with both Paul Heatley, Jordan Forsythe and Whyte again coming close on a number of occasions.

Heatley struck twice in as many minutes just before the hour mark to seal victory for the Crues.

On 56 minutes he doubled Crusaders' lead with a shot from inside the box which ricocheted off a couple of players before beating Burke.

Then, moments after that, he added a third after doing well to get in behind the defence to clinically finish.

The Reds did grab a late consolation with George McMullan's 86th minute drilled effort beyond Sean O'Neill.

Cliftonville: Burke, McGovern, Ives, Bonner, Flynn, Knowles, Curran, McDaid, M. Donnelly, Catney, Hughes subs McMullan (replaced Catney 46), Garrett (replaced Hughes 78), Winchester (replaced Knowles 78), George (not used), Lavery (not used)

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Coates, Magowan, McClean, Caddell, Snoddy, Forsythe, Whyte, Heatley, Owens subs McKibbin (not used), Clarke (not used), O'Carroll (not used), Carvill (replaced Heatley 87), Mitchell (not used)

Referee: Arnold Hunter

Attendance: 1584

Tags:  Cliftonville  Crusaders