Lisburn Distillery missed the chance to move off the bottom of the Premiership table after two David Rainey goals gave Crusaders the win at New Grosvenor.
The Whites went into the game only two points behind Donegal Celtic after the west Belfast side were docked points earlier this week.
However, Rainey half-volleyed the Crues ahead on 17 and scored the second eight minutes into the second half.
Second-placed Crues extend their margin over Linfield to eight points.
But while Stephen Baxter's side look to have a firm grip on the runners-up spot in the Premiership, the gap to leaders Cliftonville still remains a seemingly insurmountable 11 points with seven rounds of games remaining.
Helped by Donegal Celtic's registration travails, the New Grosvenor outfit had the opportunity to move out of the automatic relegation spot and they had the first decent attempt on goal as Crues keeper Yohann Lacroix had to move smartly to block a fierce drive by Aaron Boyd in the sixth minute.
But the Crues went ahead 11 minutes later as Rainey's powerful half-volley from 15 yards flew past Lee Windrum after Josh Robinson had nodded the ball into the onrushing striker's path.
Ryan McCann headed a Whites chance wide on 30 minutes but Jordan Owens then missed an even better opportunity to double the Crues lead as he was off target after a David McMaster cross.
The contest was effectively over within eight minutes of the restart as Rainey produced a neat finish after good work by Timmy Adamson.
Rainey went close to completing a hat-trick as he struck the crossbar on the hour while Adamson also scooped a glorious chance over the bar on 73 minutes as the Whites wilted.
The Whites will be back in action against Portadown on Saturday at Ballyskeagh but the key clash in the relegation battle is likely to be the Easter Tuesday contest against Donegal Celtic.