Title race goes down to the wire after Blues beat Crues to close gap

Linfield’s Aaron Burns forces his way through a mass of defenders to score. Credit: Pacemaker

Linfield 1-0 Crusaders

Linfield closed the gap on leaders Crusaders to a single point following a 1-0 victory over the champions at Windsor Park on Saturday.

Both sides were quick out of the blocks and it was Crusaders who nearly scored the game’s opening goal, but defender Howard Beverland’s header was well saved by Roy Carroll in the Linfield goal.

David Healy’s side broke the deadlock midway through the first-half when Aaron Burns collected Matthew Clarke’s left wing cross inside the penalty box before showing wonderful composure to evade three Crusaders defenders and dink home with the outside of his left foot from close range past Sean O’Neill.

Linfield could and perhaps should have extended their lead just before half-time again through Aaron Burns, but despite having plenty of time at the back post he flashed his half volley well wide of the Crusaders goal.

Paul Heatley wasted Crusaders best chance to equalise mid-way through the second half.

The Crues striker capitalised on a mistake in the Linfield defence to break clear but his effort was saved by Roy Carroll.

Crusaders searched for a late leveller but the Blues held on to secure a huge win over the champions and take the title race right down to the wire with four league games remaining.