Michael Gault and Aaron Burns tussle for the ball (Picture: Cameron Hamilton/PressEye.com)
Saturday, 13 August 2016
Ten-man Linfield held on to secure what could be a potentially crucial point from this visit to Seaview.
The Crues might have snatched the early lead when Jordan Owens volleyed wide from a Billy Joe Burns free-kick.
But that proved to be something of a false dawn as chances proved to be something of a premium throughout the scoreless first half.
Chris Casement threatened for the Blues just before a quarter-of-an-hour had elapsed but his free-kick clipped the wall before going wide.
There was plenty of industry from both sets of players but little in front of goal, although things did brighten a little before the break.
Owens headed over from a Craig McClean free-kick on 41 minutes while Linfield's Josh Carson saw a long range effort saved.
Paul Heatley did have a clear chance in stoppage time but, despite being presented with a free header, he could only direct the ball straight at Roy Carroll.
Linfield were reduced to ten men early in the second half after Stephen Lowry collected his second booking of the game following a challenge on Declan Caddell.
Moments later Casement floated a ball into the box for Mark Haughey but, from close range, he failed to keep his header on target, easily the best chance of the game.
Then, just before the hour, Linfield almost moved in front again after a Kirk Millar ball into the area was almost turned into his own net by Caddell.
Substitute David Cushley had arguably the best effort for Crusaders after he got in behind the defence but Roy Carroll was alert to the threat while Heatley fired over from distance soon after.
Crusaders, with that extra man, continued to look the more likely to score and might have done so had Carroll not thwarted a Gavin Whyte drive through a crowded area with his legs.
But, as the game started to wind down, both sides were restricted to half chances, the pick of which were a Paul Smyth header wide from a Millar cross with Whyte having another attempt sail well over.
Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Gault, Coates, Caddell, Forsythe, McClean, Owens, Heatley, Whyte subs Lowry (replaced Caddell 75), Carvill (not used), Cushley (replaced Gault 62), Dougherty (not used), Clarke (not used)
Linfield: Carroll, Haughey, Callacher, Waterworth, Lowry, Millar, Burns, Ward, Casement, Carson, Quinn subs Clingan (not used), M. Clarke (not used), Fallon (not used), Salley (not used), Smyth (replaced Carson 67)
Referee: Raymond Crangle
|Billy Joe Burns|
|Stephen Lowry||45 +1, 51|
|Andrew Waterworth||90 +1|
|David Cushley||90 +3||62|