Crusaders started the new Danske Bank Premiership season in style with a 4-1 win over Ballymena United at the Showgrounds. In a fiesty first half both sides carved out chances but couldn't find the net but the second half was lively and full of action.
The game had a cagey start as both sides found it hard to get a nose in front. Referee Keith Kennedy had a job on his hands at times keeping a lid on the game as players tested each others patience and as the game finally opened up the challenges kept coming. The first chance of the game fell to Crusaders but Gavin Whyte hit his shot wide of he post. Brian Jensen then made a cracking save from a Leroy Millar long range effort as the got going. Declan Caddell just failed to get a shot in before he was tackled while at the other end Jim Ervin cross flew across the six yard box without anyone getting to it. Kyle Owens had a header saved by Jensen before a typical Billy Joe Burns run ended with the ball going wide from his shot. As the half came to a close a Jordan Owens header caused little problems to Glendinning in the United net and half time saw the game scoreless.
The second half was a few minutes old when Gavin Whyte signalled Crusaders intent with a shot that went an inch wide. Pul Heatley followed that up a few minutes later with an attempted chip that did not come off. Ballymena United took the lead on 55 minutes when Matthew Shevlin bundled the ball over the line after a defensive lapse by Crusaders who failed to deal with along throw in. One down and Crusaders moved up the gears and the reward was the equaliser on 61 minutes. A free kick was not cleared properly by Ross Glendinning in the United goal and the ball fell to Paul Heatley via Philip Lowry and he put the ball into the net. A minute later and United where down to 10 men when Kyle Owens was given a straight red card for fouling Paul Heatley as the last man. Now minus a player United where on the back foot and Jordan Owens went close with a header from a corner. Going into the last fifteen minutes United where holding on but Paul Heatley changed the score with a magnificent goal on 78 minutes. He picked the ball up 20 yards out and casually flicked the ball up before crashing a volley into the net to put Crusaders ahead. This crushed United and on 81 minutes it was 3-1 Crusaders when Colin Coates headed home from close range before Jordan Forsythe finished them off ithanother header in injury time leaving the score 4-1 at the final whistle.
So a great start with three points on the board and a good performance to go with it. Again some decent performances that will please quite a few but attention now turns immediately to Tuesday night and the visit of Warrenpoint Town to Seaview.