Paul Heatley in action with Laitinen Juuso Tapani (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/


Crusaders kicked off their Champions League campaign with a scoreless draw at home to Estonian visitors FC Levadia.

Stephen Baxter's side going into next Tuesday's return in Tallinn knowing they must score in order to progress.

But they will be hoping they don't come to rue a number of squandered opportunities at Seaview.

Richard Clarke came close early in proceedings after his drive from a Michael Carvill cross was deflected just wide while, on eight minutes, new signing Andy Mitchell saw a 25-yard drive turned onto the crossbar by 'keeper Prit Pikker.

Egyptian midfielder Omar El Husseiny almost fired the visitors in front on 19 minutes with a powerful volley from the edge of the area but Sean O'Neill proved equal to the challenge.

Colin Coates might have handed the Crues the advantage moments from the break but his free-kick was smothered by the Estonian 'keeper.

Then, on the hour, Carvill picked out Billy Joe Burns but his subsequent drive was well saved by Pikker.

Another new signing, Jordan Forsythe, almost made the most of a botched Pikker clearance with around a quarter-of-an-hour remaining but could only lob the ball over the target.

But Levadia almost snatched a winner in stoppage time when Estonian international Kaimar Saag produced a fantastic save from O'Neill.

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Coates, Robinson, Caddell, McClean, Owens, Clarke, Heatley, Carvill, Mitchell subs McKibbin (not used), Stewart (not used), Magowan (not used), O'Carroll (not used), Forsythe (replaced Caddell 76), O'Flynn (replaced Owens 85), Snoddy (not used)

Levadia: Pikker, Rakhmanov, Laitinen, El Hussieny, Teever, Luts, Kruglov, Marin, Rähn, Pecha subs Shirokov (not used), Antonov (replaced Marin 61), Rättel (not used), Subbotin (not used), Peetson (not used), Artjunin (not used), Saag (replaced Teever 85)

Tags:  Crusaders