Crusaders tonight set down a clear marker in the Danske Bank Premiership with a hard earned gritty 1-0 win against Coleraine at the Coleraine Showgrounds. It was Jordan Owens who scored another trademark header from a great cross by Jordan Forsythe that was the difference between the sides but a superb defensive display also helped take the points back down to North Belfast.
It was a quiet start to the game as both sides sized each other up and it was Coleraine that went closest in the opening ten minutes with a corner that Crusaders got away. A David Cushley free kick was charged down before Jarlath O'Rourke did well to clear as Coleraine threatened. The game started to open up but both defences where on top and goal scoring chances looked at a premium but that was to change in the 20th minute. David Cushley did well to win the ball from Jamie Glackin and his pass reached Jordan Forsythe. Forsythe then took a touch before throwing in a perfect cross and it was Jordan Owens who headed home at the back post to make it 1-0 Crusaders. Coleraine came at Crusaders and Billy Joe Burns rode his luck when his attempt to put the ball out for a corner hit the post and rebounded staright back to him and he cleared. Gerard Doherty made a good save moments later and Crusaders countered but Chris Johns made a good save from Jamie McGonigle this time and it remained 1-0 Crusaders. The game was end to end but the closest either side came to scoring again was a David Cushley shot that he did not catch properly and a Ben Doherty shot just after the half hour mark that went wide.In the last five minutes of the half Crusaders had two great chances to extend the lead but Paul Heatley shot straight at Johns after turning his man while Jordan Owens shot across goal and wide after beating the offside trap but it remained 1-0 at the half time whistle.
As expected Coleraine came out the stronger side the second half but the Crusaders back four where magnificent to a man and stood strong time and time again. Josh Carson hit the side netting for Coleraine early on when he sneaked in at the back post while Jamie Glackin smashed one well over the bar as he went for Coleraine glory. Declan Caddell then did well to deflect a Josh Carson shot out for a corner and it was back to the walls for the visitors. Coleraine corners kept coming but the defence and Gerard Doherty kept them at bay with Jarlath O'Rourke defending brilliantly by kicking a James McLaughlin header off the line in one of them. Coleraine wasted a free kick 19 yards out by hitting it straight at the wall and it was becoming even more obvious it was to be Crusaders night. Paul Heatley had another shot saved by Johns after being put through by McGonigle and it showed that Crusaders where still dangerous with any attack they got. Coleraine where finding ot increasingly hard to get by Crusaders defending and the game played out with little or nothing to do for either goal keeper and Crusaders had won 1-0 come the final whistle.
A massive and important victory sees Crusaders jump to second place in the Danske Bank Premiership and we now look forward to next Saturdays game against Larne at Seaview in the good form we are currently in.