Crusaders set down a marker with win over Linfield
Danske Bank Premiership: Crusaders 2 Linfield 1
STEPHEN Baxter's Crusaders grabbed a large chunk of revenge with this impressive win at Seaview.
The Shore Road boys may have failed to defeat Linfield in six outings last season -- a run of results that ultimately cost them the Danske Bangor Premiership title -- but they certainly set down an early marker in this campaign.
First half wonder goals from Jordan Forsythe and Paul Heatley sent Linfield crashing to their first domestic defeat since January 3 when they lost to Coleraine at Windsor Park.
In fact, it was the first goals David Healy's boys have conceded this season. And, even though Mark Stafford reduced the deficit in the second half, it was too little to late for the Blues.
Healy's team were out-played and out-fought, especially in the first half.
Forsythe almost shot the home team into the lead after only three minutes, only to see his acrobatic scissor-kick fizz over the crossbar.
But a misunderstanding between Crusaders defender Colin Coates and goalkeeper Brian Jensen almost presented the Blues with a chance, but Aaron Burns could only curl his shot high and wide.
It was big Roy Carroll who rescued the Blues on 13 minutes when Jensen's monster clearance fell for Jordan Owens, but he held his head in frustration as the Northern Ireland shot stopper managed to beat away the effort.
Former Crusaders midfielder Andy Mitchell then tried his luck from distance and, although Jensen appeared to have it covered, he was relieved to see the ball inch past the post.
But Forsythe had the north Belfast venue rocking on 24 minutes with an exquisite strike.
He was sent clear by Heatley and, after taking a touch, he curled a beauty in to the top corner.
Owens thought he had added a second when he drilled home a Forsythe pass only to be flagged for offside.
But the second goal did duly arrive and what a strike it was. Heatley picked up a long punt forward and, spotting Carroll slightly off his line, he thundered the most audacious of efforts into the top corner.
The Crues then sent in search of a killer third with Rodney Brown drilling a wonderful 30-yard drive inches over the top before striker Owens missed a sitter.
Michael Carvill's cross was miscued by Heatley for once, but the ball fell perfectly for the towering Crues forward who directed his free header over the crossbar.
Linfield were thrown a lifeline 19 minutes from time when Aaron Burns worked his magic on the left and crossed for Stafford to tap home.
But there was to be no fairytale comeback as he Crues held on for a huge win.