Bannsiders beaten at Seaview

Crusaders' Jordan Owens scores during the game at Seaview in North Belfast  Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye

Crusaders' Jordan Owens scores during the game at Seaview in North Belfast Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye

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Coleraine slipped to a 3-0 defeat at Crusaders on Friday night, but it could have been a very different game if the Bannsiders had taken their chances.

Gavin Whyte broke the deadlock in the opening half before Paul Heatley and Owens himself added to the tally in the second.

It saw Stephen Baxter’s side go two points clear at the Premiership summit.

For Coleraine it was a frustrating night in North Belfast - the Bannsiders finding either home goalkeeper Sean O’Neill or the woodwork in their way.

Heatley was first to rattle the post with a fierce effort in the sixth minute as the Crues dominated the early proceedings.

Mark Miskimmin was denied by the feet of O’Neill with a shot from an acute angle, and from the rebound Shane McGinty’s rising effort was headed onto the crossbar by Billy Joe Burns.

The opening goal arrived in the 29th minute with Whyte forcing home from six yards after Heatley’s initial effort was cleared off the line by Joe McNeill.

Coleraine almost restored parity in the 44th minute, but O’Neill once again did well to save Miskimmin’s low effort with his feet after some neat build up play by Parkhill.

The fine margin between success and failure was highlighted in the 67th minute when Crusaders doubled their lead.

It was a cool finish from Heatley, who latched onto a ball from Owens before surging into the box and slotting past Doherty - the goal coming less than a minute after Ian Parkhill had cracked off the post at the other end.

And Owens wrapped up the win with a clinical header from Whyte’s inch-perfect cross in the 74th minute.

CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Burns, Magowan, Coates, McClean, Clarke, Caddell, Heatley (O’Carroll 70), Whyte (Hanley 79), Snoddy (Adamson 60), Owens.Subs not used: McCutcheon, Friars.

COLERAINE: Doherty, Beverland, Douglas, McCafferty, McGinty (Browne 59), Canning, Mullan, Parkhill (Watt 85), Miskimmin, McNeill, Kane.

Subs not used: Hegarty, Lindsay, Owens.

Referee: Keith Kennedy.