It was another fruitless trip to Seaview on Friday night, but it could have been very different for the Bannsiders if they had taken their chances.
The 3-0 scoreline at the end gave a very distorted view of the match in question.
The fact Crusaders keeper Sean O’Neill was awarded the Man of the Match awarded at the end shows just how much Oran Kearney’s men were in the game.
In fact they should have went into the break a goal to the good, but for the brilliance of O’Neill.
Despite being disappointed with the final result, Kearney was pleased with the performance of his youngteam yet again.
“Obviously I’m disappointed to come away from the game with nothing to show for our efforts,” he told Times Sport.
“But when you look at the game, the chances we created and our performance level I’m very happy.
“We created as many if not more chances than the Crues, but it was the taking of those chances which proved to be the difference.
“The fact that their keeper was named Man of the Match tells everything you need to know.
“We played our part in the game and deserved to get something out of it, but unfortunately we have nothing to show for it this time round.”
Both sides had chances to break the deadlock in the opening 20 minutes with Declan Caddell and Paul Heatley going close for the hosts.
At the other end Neil McCafferty forced O’Neill into a stop from a free kick, before the keeper reacted well to tip Shane McGinty’s powerful effort over the bar.
The Crues broke the deadlock on 29 minutes in a goal which could have been prevented by the Bannsiders.
Paul Heatley’s run in behind the defence wasn’t tracked and his goal-bound effort was hacked off the line by Joe McNeill, but it fell into the path of Gavin Whyte who smashed the ball home.
Just before the break Coleraine had a great chance to level as Ian Parkhill sent Mark Miskimmin clear, but again O’Neill saved the danger.
Into the second half and the turning point came on 67 minutes as Parkhill cannoned a shot off the upright.
The home side went straight up the pitch and capitalised on a mistake by Stephen Douglas as Paul Heatley made it 2-0.
Coleraine kept going and were unlucky not to pull a goal back on 71 minutes.
Parkhill fired an excellent volley goal-wards, but Richard Clarke somehow hooked it off the line.
Three minutes later Crusaders wrapped up the game as Whyte crossed for the unmarked Jordan Owens to head home.
“Crusaders are very much a momentum side,” said Kearney.
“They will have quiet spells in games, but they are also very capable of scoring three in ten minutes when they are on top.
“I was disappointed with the first goal we conceded, we didn’t track Heatley.
“Joe did well to get back and clear the ball off the line, but unfortunately for us it landed in the one place we wouldn’t have wanted it to go.
“If it had went either side of the goal it would have went away from the danger, but it fell straight for Whyte two or three yards from goal and he was never going to miss.
“To be fair to the lads they came back strongly and took the game to the Crues.
“We probably created the best chances of the half and should have gone in at the break at least level, if not in front.
“I said to the lads in the pre-match team talk that it was important that we started the game quickly and took the game to Crusaders.
“The lads did that, but we just couldn’t find that all-important goal.
“The Crues made their chances look easy, but that’s what happens when you are in the lead.
“If they had been a goal down and chasing the game it could have been very different, people get anxious and snatch at things.
“Unfortunately for us we didn’t take the two big chances which came our way before the break.
“Both Shane and ‘Misky’ were denied by two good saves, that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The Bannsiders travel to Linfield this Saturday before entertaining Cliftonville and then off to Glenavon in a tough run of fixtures.
Kearney though believes his side can build on the performance level of the last few weeks and take something out of these games against the teams above them.
“The key thing is to hold on to the performances which we have produced in recent weeks,” he said.
“We have been on a great run of late despite the disappointing results of the last two weeks.
“We just have to keep that going over the next few weeks and I know the results will take care of themselves.
“We have to be more ruthless when presented with the opportunities though.
“When chances are few and far between you have to take them when they come your way.
“I feel we will always create chances when we play, and we have shown this season that we are more than capable of seeing out a game when we’re in front.
“But it all comes down to getting ourselves in front and putting pressure on our opponents.”
The result moved Crusaders briefly to the top of the league before the games on Saturday afternoon.
Cruesw boss Stephen Baxter was delighted with the win and he is hoping to keep their good form going and put a title challenge together.
“We are aiming to stay in the race and have to stay focused on the job in hand,” said Baxter after the game.
“We are in the right place at the moment and there are so many matches to go.
“It is nice to win your home games and we then hope to pick up some points on the road.”
Skipper Colin Coates is also eyeing a Gibson Cup charge after penning a new four-year deal with the Seaview outfit.
“I am ambitious. If I was able to win one league title here, it would mean more than winning two or three at at somewhere like Windsor,” he said.
“It would be nice. We are a small club in terms of the ‘Belfast Four’. We are competing against the big guns and doing well. We are annoying them and getting good results.
“I think we have a good team here, and we can compete with anyone, but we have to get a good run going.”