Irish Premiership: Cliftonville 0-1 Crusaders

Crusaders have one hand on the Gibson Cup after beating derby rivals Cliftonville

Crusaders are virtually assured of their first Irish Premiership title since 1997 after Saturday's 1-0 win away to deposed champions Cliftonville.

With three fixtures left, the Crues are nine points ahead of second-placed Linfield who lost 2-0 to Glenavon.

Stephen Baxter's men have a superior goal difference by 27 so the Gibson Cup is destined for Seaview.

Paul Heatley scored the crucial goal by shooting low past Reds keeper Peter Cherrie in the seventh minute.

Stephen Baxter lauds fabulous Crues after win over derby rivals

Winger Heatley had missed Tuesday's defeat at Portadown because it was his wedding day.

He proved his worth to the Crues by pouncing for the title-winning strike at Solitude.

Cherrie's kick out fell to Heatley whose touch went to striker Jordan Owens. Heatley ran on to a nice return pass and directed his finish inside the far post.

Cliftonville, champions for the previous two seasons, came into the contest towards the end of the first half.

Visiting keeper Sean O'Neill made a decent save from George McMullan while a Tomas Cosgrove cross came off the Crusaders crossbar.

In the second half Cherie made four saves from Heatley while Owens hit the bar with a header from a corner.

Cliftonville's George McMullan in action against Declan Caddell of Crusaders
Crusaders look assured of their first Irish League title for 18 years

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