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Crusaders topple Linfield at Windsor Park

Crusaders beat Linfield at Windsor Park. Photo: Pacemaker

Linfield 2-5 Crusaders

Crusaders produced a superb display to defeat Linfield 5-2 at Windsor Park in their rearranged Danske Bank Premiership clash on Monday night.

The result sees Stephen Baxter's side cut the gap on leaders Coleraine to eight points.

Linfield boss David Healy will be bitterly disappointed to have lost more ground with this defeat as the Belfast Blues slumped to a fourth league defeat of the campaign.

In what was a lively start Linfield had two chances to grab that vital first goal, first defender Mark Stafford forced Crues keeper Brian Jenson into to superb save, tipping over his firm shot on 13 minutes and in the next meaningful attack Andrew Waterworth cut inside his marker to test Jenson with a shot that the Dane pushed away for a corner.

The Crues broke the ice in spectacular fashion on 22 minutes and it was Paul Heatley with a trademark goal.

Good work by Jordan Forsythe on the right wing ended with a neat ball in and Heatley swivelled to smash a volley wide of Roy Carroll's left hand.

Credit: Pacemaker

Ten minutes later and the Blues were in deep trouble when a whipped in cross by Mark McCrystal was glanced into his own net by Mark Stafford.

Stafford made amends on 38 minutes when he rose highest to guide a powerful header past Jenson to reduce the deficit.

However, having just clawed their way back into the game Linfield were caught on the counter on 44 minutes as the Crues broke with pace and after Matthew Snoddy's shot came back of the bar the ball fell to Gavin White who showed great composure to fire past Carroll for 3-1.

There was a big improvement by the Blues after the restart and a lovely headed goal from Aaron Burns on 56 minutes was just what the home fans wanted to see.

It was all Linfield now as they pinned the Crues in their own half and Healy's side almost levelled on 66 minutes but Matthew Clarke's goalbound shot was cleared off the line by McCrystal.

A second deflected goal on 81 minutes ended the Linfield fightback, the impressive Whyte's shot clipping the leg of Jimmy Callacher on the way into the net to put the visitors 4-2 up.

Substitute Philip Lowry wrapped up a fine win for the Crues near the end to leave the final score 5-2.