Irish Premiership: Champions Crusaders open campaign with 4-2 win over Ards

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Crusaders lost a 2-0 lead before two headed goals secured their win

Crusaders opened their Irish Premiership title defence with a 4-2 win over Ards as Rory Patterson scored on his debut and missed a penalty.

Michael Carvill put Crusaders ahead on 22 minutes with Patterson finishing off a fine move to double the lead on 31.

After Gareth Tommons' immediate reply, Patterson's attempted 'Panenka' style penalty floated over the bar.

Tommons levelled after half-time but Jordan Forsythe restored the Crues' lead before Declan Caddell's late goal.

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Crusaders debutant Rory Patterson shows his disappointment after his penalty miss

Patterson produces lively debut

After his move from Derry City last Thursday to plug the gap left by Jordan Owens' injury, Patterson was handed an immediate debut by Stephen Baxter and the former Northern Ireland international produced a lively display.

His ability to hold the ball up and link play, allied to physical presence, caused Ards numerous problems in addition to his clever finish for the home team's second goal after a sweeping move.

But Patterson's attempt to emulate the Czechoslovakia 1976 European Championship Final hero's memorable penalty did not go to plan as his chipped effort sailed over the crossbar just before the break.

Patterson's brief verdict afterwards spoke of a "brutal penalty" while his manager's view that "you don't chip (penalty) balls when it's still tight" suggested that the topic may have been discussed during the half-time interval.

Declan Caddell celebrates after his late goal at Seaview
Declan Caddell's injury-time goal sealed Crusaders' win

Crues dominant in first half

While Ards did have their moments, the champions bossed the first half with Paul Heatley and Ross Clarke going close before Carvill them ahead after good work by Clarke.

Heatley should have immediately doubled the lead as he fired wide from pointblank range after a Carvill pass but the second Crues goal soon came as Patterson finished off a sweeping move.

Tommons' back-post finish saw Ards immediately pulling a goal back before Patterson's penalty embarrassment saw the champions having to be content with a 2-1 interval lead.

Crusaders didn't have the same fluency in the second period and Ards levelled on 56 as Tommons netted his second after being played in by Jonny Frazer.

Sensing that the game was in danger of slipping away, Crusaders regrouped to produce a period of pressure with Patterson and Heatley both denied by blocks before Forsythe's headed connection from a corner restored their lead on 69 minutes.

Ards' hopes of getting on terms again suffered a bad blow on 80 when Joshua Kelly was sent off after picking up his second yellow card for an over-zealous challenge on Patterson.

The debutant striker received a big ovation from the Crusaders faithful when he was replaced on 83 minutes.

As the game was about to enter injury-time, Frazer's long-range effort gave Crusaders a scare but their worries were eased a minute later when Caddell headed another corner past Samuel Johnston.

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