Crusaders inexorable march to a third consecutive Danske Bank Premiership title continues following a comfortable 3-0 win over struggling Carrick Rangers.
Indeed had Carrick keeper Brian Neeson not produced a performance right out of the top drawer his side would have suffered a much heavier defeat and the result of the match would have been decided much earlier.
As early as three minutes in Neeson’s heroics began with a flying save from man-of-the-match Richard Clarke, once more at his busy best pulling the strings for the Crues from midfield.
Neeson also made significant saves from Jordan Forsythe, Billy Joe Burns and Jordan Owens before Philip Lowry opened the scoring after 19 minutes.
That’s how it stayed until the hour mark when Owens headed the Crues’ second and then, six minutes later, Burns made it 3-0 with the pick of the bunch.
Receiving a crossfield pass from Gavin Whyte, Burns roared down the left and, with everyone expecting a cross, he screwed the ball into Neeson’s bottom left-hand corner with the outside of his right foot.
With four minutes left, Lowry was lifted in the box and Crusaders got a penalty which again gave Neeson a platform for his talents as he made a flying save from Clarke’s effort, leaving the final score 3-0.
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Burns, Beverland, Keane, McClean, Whyte (Cushley, 81), Lowry, Clarke, Forsythe (Mitchell, 77), Carvill (Brown, 68), Owens. Subs: Cushley, Mitchell, Brown.
CARRICK RANGERS: Neeson, Foster, Surgenor, McVey, McCullough, Noble, Clarke (O’Brien, 54), Taggart (Mustapha, 35), Kelly, TJ.Murray, Salley (McConnell, 65). Subs: O’Brien, McConnell, Mustapha.