Paul Heatley (17)
Jordan Owens (18)
Jordan Owens (20)
Gavin Whyte (32)
Paul Heatley (63)
Jordan Owens (90 2p)


Jordan Owens helped himself to an opening day hat-trick (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/


Champions Crusaders got their Danske Bank Premiership title defence off to a perfect start with a six-goal rout of Ballymena United at Seaview.

After a fairly even opening Crusaders hit the Sky Blues with a three-goal blitz in as many minutes to effectively kill the game off after 20 minutes.

Paul Heatley opened the scoring on 17 minutes when he fired into the bottom corner after Billy Joe Burns took the ball past a number of defenders to create the opening.

Then, within sixty seconds, Heatley turned provider himself when he cut the ball back for Jordan Owens to have time and space to side foot into the net.

Remarkably, barely two minutes after that, Owens struck again with another tap in after Burns skipped past a defender before sending a low ball in.

And it was 4-0 on 32 minutes after the static United defence allowed Owens to nod the ball down for Gavin Whyte to blast home from the edge of the box.

Heatley then added Crusaders' fifth on the hour after being allowed to run through the United rearguard before beating Blayney one-on-one.

Owens secured his hat-trick in stoppage time from the spot when his right-footed effort sent Blayney the wrong way after Michael Carvill had been brought down.

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Gault, McClean, Whyte, Heatley, Cushley, Owens, Forsythe, Caddell subs Clarke (replaced Caddell 72), Lowry (replaced Cushley 72), Holden (not used), Carvill (replaced Heatley 76), Soares (not used)

Ballymena United: Blayney, Owens, Flynn, Thompson, Jenkins, McCloskey, Friel, Ervin, McMurray, Smith, McCaffrey subs Glendinning (not used), Henderson (not used), E. Kane (replaced McCloskey 78), Millar (replaced McCaffrey 60), Johnston (replaced Flynn 72)

Referee: Andrew Davey

Attendance: 1479

Tags:  Ballymena United  Crusaders