It was a bad day at the office for Crusaders today as they lost 3-1 to North Belfast neighbours Cliftonville at Solitude. It means that the lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership has been cut to two points after Coleraine beat Ballymena Utd 2-0.
Crusaders started well and Billy Joe Burns went on a run beating 4or 5 players but his cross was cut out. That was as good as it got though as Cliftonville rushed to a 3-0 lead in 10 minutes. Joe Gormley scored after 6 minutes when he was left in the box unmarked and he turned and shot home to make it 1-0. A minute later it was 2-0 when Rory Donnelly was on hand to finish in front of goal and it got worse for Crusaders when Brian Jensen gave away a penalty and Joe Gormley made no mistake from the spot. Gavin Whyte pulled a shot wide and Paul Heatley was bustled out of a good move in between all this but Crusaders could not break through. Cliftonville went close again when they hit the outside of the post and Paul Heatley was unlucky when his shot crashed off the bar. Crusaders where trying to get back into the game but nothing seemed to work and it stayed 3-0 at half time.
The second half saw Crusaders start brightly again and Neeson had to get out smartly to stop Crusaders and in the next attack Darren Murray lifted the ball over Neeson and the bar. It was Neeson again who was quickly out to stop Crusaders again but Joe Gormley responded at the other end for Cliftonville but his shot went just wide. Brian Jensen was called on to tip a shot over the bar while Neeson did the same thing minutes later at the other end. Jordan Owens was next to challenge Neeson but his shot was cleared off the line and again the Cliftonville stopper did well to deny Crusaders not long after. Jordan Owens put a header wide and Colin Coates then made a super block to stop Cliftonville scoring as the game opened up. On 87 minutes Jordan Owens pulled a goal back for Crusaders when he beat the offside trap and put the ball beyond Neeson but it was to littke to late as Cliftonville closed the game out leaving the final score 3-1 to Cliftonville.
So points dropped and Crusaders will immediately turn to getting it right at Seaview next Saturday against Dungannon Swifts.