Crusaders got the win they have been looking for with two goals in time added on as they defeated Carrick Rangers 3-1 at Belfast Loughshore Arena. Trailing 1-0 at half time Crusaders dominated large parts of the second half and scored three goals and collected three valuable points as well.
Both sides started strongly and it was Carrick who came closest to scoring but Crusaders defence scrambled the ball away. Jordan Owens was put off by good Carrick defending while a David Cushley shot was saved by Aaron Hogg and a Philip Lowry curling effort went the wrong side of the post. Carrick Rangers though took the lead on 14 minutes when Guillaume Keke took a neat touch from a pass by Lloyd Anderson and shot low past Gerard Doherty to his right and it was 1-0. Crusaders peppered the Carrick goal with shots but they rarely troubled the keeper with the closest one being a header from Owens that went wide. Philip Lowry had a shot blocked after a neat Crusaders build up before Cushley, Heatley and McGonigle all had a go at goal without reward. Crusaders where growing frustrated at the chances missed but the chances created did not get the goal they wanted and the half ended with Carrick Rangers leading 1-0.
Howard Beverland and Ross Clarke replaced David Cushley and Paul Heatley and Crusaders changed formation. Three early shots showed their intent for the second half and Carrick Rangers knew what was too come. McGonigle, Hale and Forsythe all went close but it was Ross Clarke who made the breakthrough for Crusaders on 56 minutes. He collected the ball on the wing and cut inside running along the edge of the 18 yard box evading tackles before shooting past Hogg with a smashing shot. 1-1 and Crusaders started to push on. Jamie McGonigle was unlucky not to get control of the ball to shoot and Rory Hale was in a similar situation as time ticked on. Crusaders stuck to the task as Stephen Baxter made a final substitution with 5 minutes added time on the clock and Reece McGinley replaced Philip Lowry. It proved pivotal just 2 minutes later when McGinley twisted and turned before crossing and as the ball reached Jordan Owens he controlled and shot past Hogg to put Crusaders 2-1 ahead. Crusaders hadn't finished and on the whistle Jamie McGonigle ran on to a great pass by Ross Clarke and cooly chipped the ball over Hogg from the edge of the box and it was 3-1. Their was little time to even restart and on the whistle Crusaders had collected three points to set up a good weekend.
So a win for Crusaders and immediately thoughts turn to next Saturday and the trip to Milltown to play Warrenpoint Town.