Irish Premiership: Ballymena United 1-3 Crusaders

Premiership leaders Crusaders come from behind to beat Ballymena United 3-1 at the Showgrounds.

Crusaders maintain their six-point lead at the top of the Premiership thanks to a hard-fought win over Ballymena.

Allan Jenkins opened the scoring with a deflected shot in the 16th minute but Paul Heatley diverted the ball past Tim Allen to equalise 10 minutes later.

Timmy Adamson fired home after Allen dropped a high ball after 67.

Jordan Owens stole past Paddy McNally to head in from a Richard Clarke delivery on 82 minutes to make the points safe, his 27th of the season.

The Crues welcomed back Colin Coates and Paul Heatley after suspension, but Josh Robinson sat out the match because of a ban and Gavin Whyte was ruled out through illness.

The Sky Blues had Johnny Taylor, Gary Thompson and David Cushley all suspended.

The visitors enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and Allen saved a snap-shot from Diarmuid O'Carroll and then palmed away Heatley's left-foot drive.

United skipper Jenkins was fortunate when he appeared to trip Heatley inside the area but referee Tim Marshall waved play on.

The Scot bagged his ninth goal of the season soon after when he took advantage of poor defending to find the net with a deflected shot after Matthew Tipton squared the ball.

Heatley levelled by poking home a right-foot shot after Owens drilled a low ball into the area.

Adamson nudged Stephen Baxter's side ahead for the first time, the Coates saw a header tipped over the bar by Allen.

Owens made the points safe and then forced the home stopper into a fine diving save, Allen also denying Heatley in the closing stages.

The victory extends Crusaders' unbeaten league run to 15 games, but they face a further four consecutive away matches as they continue their bid to secure the title.

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter: "The pitch was difficult to play on but we managed to get the ball into the right areas and their goalkeeper made three stunning saves.

"We should have had a penalty, but we scored three good goals and we're happy to come away with the points as it's a difficult place to come to."

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