Allan Jenkins (20)
Gary Thompson (69)

2

Paul Heatley (03p)
Jordan Owens (37)
Gavin Whyte (70)
Jordan Forsythe (77)

4

Gavin Whyte celebrates his solo effort at The Showgrounds (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/PressEye.com)

CRUES WIN ENTERTAINING SHOWGROUNDS ENCOUNTER

Crusaders closed the gap at the top to two points following this entertaining defeat of Ballymena United at The Showgrounds.

The visitors needed just two-and-a-half minutes to open the scoring after Paul Heatley converted from the spot into the bottom left corner after Johnny Taylor had brought down Jordan Owens.

However, United levelled on 20 minutes courtesy of Allan Jenkins with a glancing header from a Tony Kane ball from the right.

And Glenn Ferguson's side almost moved in front just after the half-hour mark when Matthew Tipton was brought down in the area but, after dusting himself down, the experienced striker could only blast his resultant penalty over the bar.

Crusaders regained the lead on 37 minutes after Andrew Mitchell delivered a cross to the back post for Owens to head into the top right corner of Dwayne Nelson's goal.

The Crues might have extended their advantage early in the second half when Owens went close with a stooping header before Heatley turned at effort straight at the 'keeper.

The Sky Blues almost levelled on 64 minutes when a Tipton curling effort came back off the crossbar but, within five minutes, they did equalise for a second time through substitute Gary Thompson from an acute angle.

Stephen Baxter's charges moved back in front once more barely a minute later after Gavin Whyte rounded off a long run with a shot into the bottom left corner.

Jordan Forsythe then made it 4-2 with just under a quarter-of-an-hour to go after getting the final touch to a Richard Clarke corner that had been headed down.

Ballymena United: Nelson, Ervin, Taylor, Rodger, Ruddy, T. Kane, E. Kane, Jenkins, Cushley, Shevlin, Tipton subs McNally (not used), Magennis (replaced Tipton 80), Thompson (replaced Kane 58), Gawley (replaced Ruddy 84), Taggart (not used)

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Robinson, Forsythe, McClean, Owens, Snoddy, Clarke, Heatley, Whyte, Mitchell subs Magowan (not used), O'Carroll (not used), O'Flynn (not used), Molloy (replaced Whyte 80), McKibbin (not used)

Referee: Ian McNabb

Attendance: 1173

Tags:  Ballymena United  Crusaders