Irish Premiership: Glenavon 3-7 Crusaders

League leaders Crusaders beat ten-man Glenavon 7-3 at Mourneview Park

Crusaders moved six points clear at the top of the Irish Premiership thanks to a remarkable win away to Glenavon.

Paul Heatley netted early on for Crusaders but Rhys Marshall forced in an equaliser in the 41st minute before Gavin Whyte restored the lead.

Glenavon defender Marshall was sent-off for bringing down Heatley and Diarmuid O'Carroll made it 3-1 from the penalty.

Jordan Owens, Whyte (2) and Heatley added for the Crues with Ciaran Martyn and Kevin Braniff scoring for Glenavon.

With second-placed Linfield losing at home to Portadown on Friday night, this big win at Mourneview Park sees Crusaders really seize the initiative in the battle for the Irish Premiership title.

Crusaders, who last won the title in 1997, are six points clear with eight matches remaining.

Stephen Baxter's men made a superb start against Glenavon with Heatley shooting in his 20th goal of the season from just a few yards in the seventh minute.

Glenavon got level when Marshall pounced from close-range after keeper Sean O'Neill had made a good save from Martyn's header.

Crusaders regained the lead within a minute as Heatley's ball from the left was superbly turned in first-time by 19-year-old Whyte.

The visitors' third came at the start of the second half as Marshall got a red card for tripping Heatley and O'Carroll converted from the spot.

Whyte then set up striker Owens who made it 4-1 in the 51st minute.

Midfielder Martyn punished slack Crues defending by nipping in to flick a header over keeper O'Neill.

Whyte then lobbed his second for 5-2 but Glenavon pulled another goal back through a Braniff penalty awarded for hand-ball by Timmy Adamson.

Whyte completed his hat-trick with a shot which was adjudged to have crossed the line after striking the underside of the crossbar and Heatley completed the scoring with his second goal in stoppage-time.