Irish Premiership: Crusaders 2-2 Cliftonville

Crusaders 2-2 Cliftonville

Cliftonville came from two goals down to snatch a dramatic draw in the top two clash against Crusaders at Seaview.

Champions Crusaders had looked destined to go 11 points clear after second-half goals by Jordan Forsythe and Billy Joe Burns put them in command at Seaview.

But David McDaid gave Cliftonville hope with a superbly-taken free-kick 15 minutes from the end.

Cliftonville, title holders in 2013 and 2014, equalised in the 88th minute through a Jay Donnelly header.

Match facts
Goalkeeper Sean O'Neill has kept seven clean sheets in Crusaders' 11 home league games this season.Before today, Crusaders had beaten Cliftonville 1-0 in the last three meetings between the north Belfast rivals.
Crusaders are unbeaten in the Premiership for 20 matches, after losing to Portadown on the opening day. Cliftonville have lost just one of their last 15 matches in the Premiership

Crues boss Stephen Baxter will see it as two points dropped after squandering a two-goal advantage.

Forsythe shot them into a 68th-minute lead and Burns made it 2-0 with a penalty after a push by Tomas Cosgrove on Jordan Owens.

The spot-kick verdict infuriated Cliftonville who felt they were denied a penalty early in the game.

McDaid scored for the visitors with a superb 75th-minute free-kick and then came Donnelly's point-saving header after a free into the goalmouth.

The big talking point of the first half was referee Raymond Crangle's decision not to award a penalty when Jay Donnelly went sprawling in the box following a challenge by Burns.

What they said

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter: "You have to give credit to Cliftonville. They came from 2-0 down with 15 minutes left and gave it a right good go.

"It was a great game of football and was fantastic entertainment for the big crowd.

"It was important we did not lose the game and eight points is still a good gap - we'll take it.

"You cannot take anything for granted, we have to keep working hard."

Cliftonville manager Gerard Lyttle: "It was all about bouncing back after dropping points last week.

"We were disappointed to go two down but it shows the fight and determination the boys have to not be beaten.

"The league is never over in January and we will battle all the way."