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Seasonal slump

Crusaders 3-0 Cliftonville

There was Derby Day disappointment for Cliftonville as Crusaders eased to a comfortable three points at Seaview this afternoon.

Trailing at half-time through a Luke Turner own goal and Paul Heatley’s close-range finish, whatever slim hopes the Reds had of sparking a late comeback were snuffed out when Jordan Owens slammed in from long range in the closing minutes.

Cliftonville had made a reasonably bright start to the game and threatened when Joe Gormley’s touch, turn and strike forced a stop from goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey, who was grateful to a covering defender for clearing the danger before Kris Lowe could pounce on the follow-up.

A superb double save from Nathan Gartside ensured the stalemate was maintained on 11 minutes; the keeper first repelling a point-blank header from Adam Lecky before turning the striker’s rebound against the crossbar and gathering the ball when it bounced back down inside the six-yard box.

The breakthrough came in highly unfortunate circumstances from the visitors’ point of view when a Paul Heatley corner struck Turner on the back and nestled in the net but it wasn’t long before the Reds were threatening again and a dangerous Jamie McDonagh cross had to be cut out at the near post before Gormley was denied by Tuffey, who again saw a defender complete the job on the line when Ronan Hale unleashed the rebound.

Gormley came close again on 31 minutes but was only able to lash his attempt across the face of goal and those misses would prove costly with the Crues doubling their advantage soon later when Heatley slid in to convert Jarlath O’Rourke’s cross.

The first-half ended with a fierce Gormley strike being blocked by Josh Robinson ahead of a second period that delivered little by way of goalmouth action.

Ronan Hale blazed wide with a half-volley and was then unable to get a shot away after being picked out by Sean Moore and, though Cliftonville enjoyed a brief burst of pressure that included Levi Ives trying his luck with a free-kick, Tuffey was rarely troubled ahead of Owens wrapping up the home side’s win with a blast from outside the box.

Cliftonville: Gartside, Addis, Gallagher (R Curran, 76 mins), McDonagh (Doherty, 51 mins), Lowe (Ives, 51 mins), Gormley, Casey (Rory Hale, 51 mins), Turner (C Curran, 63 mins), Ronan Hale, Coates, Moore. Unused subs: Donnelly, Robinson.