Irish Premiership: Crusaders claim bragging rights with 1-0 win over Cliftonville

Jordan Owens
Jordan Owens created the telling moment in the 71st minute

A scrappy second half goal was enough for Crusaders to see off north Belfast rivals Cliftonville with a 1-0 win at Seaview on Friday night.

Jordan Owens' goalbound header was hooked off the line by Conor McDermott, but only back onto teammate Aaron Donnelly who could do nothing as the ball cannoned into the net.

In a tight match, Sean O'Neill made an excellent stop to deny Conor McMenamin in the first half before Crusaders felt they were denied a penalty when Michael Ruddy went down just before the break.

The win is Crusaders' second of the new league season, while Cliftonville remain on three points following their opening weekend victory over Glentoran.

With both sides playing their part in a very watchable physical contest, clear-cut chances were at a premium in front of nearly 350 fans on the Shore Road.

McMenamin's rasping effort from outside the box forced O'Neill into a brilliant one-handed save with the ball destined for the top corner.

Two minutes before the interval Crusaders were adamant they should have had a penalty when Ruddy knocked the ball past Brush and went down while going beyond the keeper, but referee Jamie Robinson waved away appeals.

Philip Lowry's low drive whistled past the post just before half-time, but neither side had done enough to edge ahead after the opening 45.

The introduction of Rory Hale after 66 minutes added an extra dimension to Crusaders' forward play, with the midfielder forcing a good save by Brush with his first touch of the game.

Enjoying the better of the exchanges Crusaders got the goal through Owens on 71 minutes, as the striker out-jumped Brush after Cliftonville had let the ball bounce, with McDermott and Donnelly's attempts to rescue the situation ultimately in vain.

O'Neill remained untroubled as Cliftonville struggled to create openings in search of an equaliser.

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