Crusaders today went joint top with Linfield after a fine 1-0 victory over Glenavon. An early goal from the tricky Paul Heatley after three minutes was enough to earn the win but a Man of the Match performance from Glenavon goalkeeper Johnathan Tuffey kept the score respectable.
Crusaders started superbly and within 3 minutes where one ahead. A through ball to Paul Heatley saw him hold the defender off, get away from him and after cutting inside let fly giving Johnathan Tuffey no chance to his right. Glenavon came back at Crusaders but the defence was in good form especially Josh Robinson and they held Glenavon comfortably. Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley where linking well and Glenavon managed to cut out several important passes that could have led to another Crusaders goal. Jonathan Tuffey was having an inspired game and he made several fine stops from Owens and Heatley. Michael Carvill went close but his attempt ran along the line and away and Glenavon hit back but there shots where well off target. Jordan Owens was hurt in a clash which left the big man with a bloody nose but he was cleaned up and came back on.The game went back and forward and Tuffey again made a wonderful save from Heatley. As the half ended Tuffey again made two good saves from Heatley and Sean O'Neill was called into action late in the half to keep the score at 1-0 come the whistle.
The second half pretty much followed the same path as the first with box to box action. Tuffey again was on hand to beat Heatley to a ball and Snoddy was denied as Tuffey did enougfh to put him off. Glenavon turned the pressure on and Crusaders stood strong with Josh Robinson and Colin Coates dealing with Eoin Bradley and his runs on several occasions. Gleanvon went very close on one occasion as O'Neill was confident a passing ball was going out and Bradley headed wide at Crusaders back post because the cross was just to high. Again Bradley was close when Sean O'Neill did well to make him shoot early and wide. Crusaders then picked up the pace and Owens had a header put wide and Carvill was denied twice again by Tuffey and Tuffeys luck held when in a goalmouth scramble the ball landed in his hands. Tuffey hadn't finished his man of the match performance yet as again he denied both Owens and Heatley. Sean O'Neill made an important stop for Crusaders as the game closed but it was Tuffey who again made a save this time to deny Matthew Snoddy. With ni further action to report the game ended with Crusaders winning 1-0.
So three points and with Linfield drawing it meant Crusaders go joint top with them and only goal difference of five seperating them. Job done and Stephen Baxter will be pleased with the performance. Next up is Ballymena United on Tuesday evening in TOALS Bookmakers Co.Antrim Shield. Kick off is 7.45pm