Irish Premiership: Linfield 0-1 Crusaders

Jordan Owens goal puts Crusaders three clear at top

Crusaders produced a composed display to beat a disappointing Linfield in the Premiership top-two encounter.

Jordan Owens's 39th-minute goal proved the difference but the Crues were full value for their win at Windsor Park.

The outstanding Paul Heatley also hit the Linfield woodwork as the Crues looked the more dangerous side for the majority of the contest.

Ivan Sproule wasted a Blues chance with Aaron Burns hitting the Crues bar late on but it was a poor Linfield display.

The Crues went into the game heading the table on goal difference from the Blues but Saturday's victory puts the champions three points clear at the top after their second victory of the season over the Windsor Park outfit.

Linfield looked disjointed for most of the contest with the absence of a physical presence in central midfield glaringly obvious for David Healy's Blues, who were suffering the second defeat of the season by the champions.

Guy Bates did look lively down the Linfield left early on but despite his enterprise, the Blues scarcely created an opening in the first period.

The action was largely forgettable for the opening 39 minutes before the game's crucial moment as Owens turned and fired past Ross Glendinning after Mark Haughey had failed to deal with a Jordan Forsythe cross.

Forsythe almost doubled the Crues advantage two minutes later as his curling effort was inches wide with Glendinning totally beaten.

The roving Heatley continued to torment the Linfield defence as he was cynically chopped down by Haughey and then hit the bar after a Jimmy Callacher mistake.

At the other end, Ivan Sproule appeared to be blatantly offside as he raced clear of the Crues defence but as the former Northern Ireland winger hesitated, Colin Coates put in a last-ditch tackle.

Heatley then seemed certain to close out the game as he broke clear of the Blues defence only for him to fail to get full purchase on his shot.

Linfield did produce an inevitable late rally with Sean O'Neill cutting out a Niall Quinn cross and Burns then hammering against the woodwork in the second minute of injury-time after a rare mistake by the Crues keeper.