Matthew Shevlin (55)


Paul Heatley (62)
Paul Heatley (78)
Colin Coates (81)
Jordan Forsythe (90 2)


Paul Heatley celebrates with Billy Joe Burns and Philip Lowry as the Crues edge in front (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/


Crusaders got the new season off to a flying start with a comprehensive defeat of Ballymena United at The Showgrounds.

Despite the eventual outcome, United's teenage striker Matthew Shevlin had the honour of grabbing the opening goal of the new season when, on 55 minutes, he broke the deadlock after the first half had finished scoreless.

The 18-year-old finished from close range after Kyle Owens had knocked on a long throw-in from Conor McCloskey.

However, the game changed just after the hour. Philip Lowry nodded the ball on for Paul Heatley to level for the Crues before, a minute later, United were reduced to ten men when Owens was sent-off for bringing down Heatley.

Heatley then fired the visitors in front with 12 minutes remaining, Colin Coates added a third three minutes after that with substitute Jordan Forsythe completing the scoring in stoppage time.

BBC Sport NI coverage

Ballymena United: Glendinning, Kane, Owens, Flynn, Gault, Braniff, McCloskey, Shevlin, Ervin, Millar, McKinney subs Brennan (not used), Friars (replaced Millar 72), Thompson (not used), Friel (replaced Shevlin 86), McCaffrey (not used)

Crusaders: Jensen, Coates, Burns, Beverland, Lowry, Ward, Caddell, Owens, Heatley, Whyte, Brown subs McChrystal (not used), Carvill (not used), Cushley (replaced Owens 90), Forsythe (replaced Ward 60), Snoddy (not used)

Referee: Keith Kennedy

Attendance: 1840

Tags:  Ballymena United  Crusaders