Irish Premiership: Crues move second with win over Newry
Crusaders have moved level on points with leaders Linfield after David Cushley's strike secured a 1-0 victory at relegation-threatened Newry City.
Cushley curled in the only goal on six minutes in a disappointing Showgrounds game with few clear-cut chances.
Paul Heatley and Jordan Owens went close as the champions dominated the early stages and Cushley hit the woodwork in the second half.
Crusaders go above Ballymena but the Blues stay top on goal difference.
Just one point separates the top three before Linfield and Ballymena go into action on Saturday.
Stephen's Baxter's side looked on course for a comfortable win after making a blistering start to Friday night's encounter.
A flowing move ended with the ball falling to Cushley 20 yards out and he cut inside on his favoured left foot to bend the ball beyond keeper Andy Coleman and just inside the post.
Paul Heatley flashed wide soon after before striker Jordan Owens saw a header and shot both going over the bar.
But after 20 minutes the energy levels dropped from the visitors and the game became more even but also scrappy with chances at a premium.
Newry lacked potency in attack and they didn't have anyone on the spot to capitalise when Crues keeper Gerard Doherty failed to connect when he came out for a cross.
Stephen Teggart tried to replicate Cushley's goal early in the second half but he could only send it high and wide while Jordan Forsythe fired over at the other end.
Cushley got on the end of a Jordan Owens knock-down before his shot deflected off Noel Healy and onto the woodwork on 58 minutes.
Doherty kept out an inswinging Mark Hughes free-kick while Thomas McCann's rising strike flew over in Newry's last sight on goal.
City remain 11th and two points off the basement while Crusaders have played two games more than Linfield and the Sky Blues.