Shane McGinty and Philip Lowry tussle for possession (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)
Tuesday, 01 January 2019
Crusaders brought Ballymena United's long unbeaten run to an end with a Paul Heatley inspired victory over the Sky Blues at Seaview.
The Crues moved into the lead after just seven minutes. The Ballymena defence was caught square as the ball was punted over the top from distance for Paul Heatley to expertly control as it dropped over his shoulder to volley past Ross Glendinning.
And Heatley might have doubled his tally moments later but, on this occasion, he was thwarted by the Sky Blues keeper. Indeed, he had another chance after that after breaking free on the right only to send a sliced effort curling wide of the target.
After a couple of near misses Ballymena finally levelled on 25 minutes through Jude Winchester who poked the ball past Sean O'Neill after getting past Billy Joe Burns to connect with a Tony Kane cross from the right.
But Crusaders restored their advantage just four minutes after that through Kyle Owens who found himself in space to beat Glendinning at the back post.
David Jeffrey's side equalised again on 64 minutes thanks to a superb Steven McCullough finish which saw him turn in the box to volley past O'Neill after meeting Cathair Friel's ball from wide on the left.
Back came the Crues with a Heatley effort crashing off the bar from 25 yards before, just as a draw seemed likely, he grabbed the winner with four minutes remaining after his finish from a Cushley pass took a deflection off defender Kofi Balmer.
Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Coates, Lowry, Cushley, Caddell, Forsythe, K. Owens, Ruddy, J. Owens, Heatley subs Doherty (not used), Ward (not used), Carvill (replaced Cushley 90+3), Snoddy (replaced Caddell 89), Brown (not used), Clarke (not used), Patterson (not used)
Ballymena United: Glendinning, Kane, Addis, McGinty, Friel, McCullough, Balmer, Winchester, Ervin, Lecky, McMurray subs McDermott (not used), Quigley (not used), Whiteside (replaced Kane 85), Mayse (replaced Balmer 90+2), Faulkner (not used), Nolan (not used), Shevlin (not used)
Referee: Ian McNabb
|Billy Joe Burns||12|
|David Cushley||90 +3|
|Kofi Balmer||90 +2|
|Michael Carvill||90 +3|
|Ryan Mayse||90 +2|