Crusaders today ran riot at The Brandywell and travelled home with six goals, a clean sheet, three points and still unbeaten in what was a perfect day. Only for good goalkeeeping and a few missed chances it could have been more but the day was a good as it got.
Things where pretty quiet in the first 10 minutes as both sides checked each other out but Crusaders started to take control with Philip Lowry and Michael Ruddy having a go without scoring. Paul Heatley had a good chance to score on 18 minutes but his shot was cleared off the line after it had gone past the keeper. Three minutes later on 21 minutes he did score when he volleyed home brilliantly after a cross from Ross Clarke and Crusaders where on their way. Crusaders kept the pressure up and Ross Clarke hit the side netting with a free kick and was unlucky not to control and shoot after a good ball from Rory Hale soon after. Institute had a few chances but did not force one save from Sean O'Neill as the half became all Crusaders. Another counter attack saw Jordan Owens shoot over before Crusaders scored a second on 37 minutes from Philip Lowry. Paul Heatley crossed a ball into the box and Jordan Owens did well to beat the keeper to the ball in the air. His header went to Philip Lowry who hit the ball past several bodies into the net and Crusaders where 2-0 up. Two minutes before half time Institute where reduced to ten men when Mark Scotlock was given a straight red card for a tackle on Ross Clarke. Nothing came of the free kick and the half ended with Crusaders two ahead.
The second half began with Jamie McGonigle replacing Jordan Owens up front and within five minutes Crusaders where awarded a penalty after Michael Ruddy was pulled down in the box. Jordan Forsythe stepped up to take the kick but Rory Brown saved after diving to his right only to see the ball rebound back to Forsythe who tapped home to make it 3-0. Philip Lowry was unlucky not to score a few minutes later when a perfectly timed run saw him twist and shoot but Brown saved. Crusaders went further ahead on 58 minutes through Rory Hale when he received a pass from McGonigle and cooly slotted home. It was all Crusaders and Michael Ruddy and Jamie McGonigle had chances to score before substitute David Cushley and Chris Hegarty both had headers over the bar. Crusaders had to wait until the 79th minute to make it 5-0. Good work yet again by Jamie McGonigle and Ross Clarke saw Clarkes cross into the six yard box met by Heatley who scored with a neat flick. Paul McElroy made his Crusaders debut seconds later and he saw Paul Heatley go close to getting his hat trick but Brown saved well. Cushley then saw a chance deflected wide before Heatley shot high and wide after cutting inside to set himself up. With seconds left Crusaders made it 6-0 and it was debut man Paul McElroy who scored after being put through by Rory Hale and the day was complete with a 6-0 scoreline at the final whistle.
So another super performance by the lads and they sit at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership unbeaten but with a long way to go. They now turn their attention to the start of the defence of the Toalsbet.com Co. Antrim Shield on Tuesday night against Sirocco Works (7.45pm)