Gary Hamilton rings the changes as he looks to freshen up his side. Greg Moorhouse and Guy Bates get the nod up front with Eoin Bradley, who hasn’t scored since his double in the 5-0 win against Ballymena United, having to settle for a place on the bench. In total the Glenavon manager makes six changes from Tuesday night’s league cup semi final defeat.
Just the start Glenavon didn’t want going behind after just 6 minutes. Cushley picking out Whyte with a neat pass and Declan Caddell with a close range finish from his low cross, despite Jonny Tuffey getting some sort of touch on it, he couldn’t keep it out.
The Lurgan Blues have their keeper to thank for not being further behind inside the first quarter, Tuffey pulling off two fantastic saves to deny Heatley.
Glenavon did carve out a couple of decent chances. McClean misjudged a clearance from Tuffey and Sean O’Neill rushed out of his area but Moorhouse got to the ball and tried to find the net from outside the right side of the box but his effort drifted wide.
On the half hour Bates and Sykes exchanged passes just outside the Crues box which released the young midfielder to run with the ball into the area but he blasted over the bar from six yards when he really should have been hitting the target.
The visitors got the start to the second half that they needed when Sykes split the Crues defence with a great ball to Mark Patton. He cut into the box from the left channel and coolly slotted the ball beyond O’Neill.
Gavin Whyte restored the Crues lead in the 58th minute but it was all down to a great touch and layoff by Heatley, from a ball down the line by BJ Burns, to release his team-mate as he burst into the box.
Five minutes later it looked like a clear penalty to Glenavon when Moorhouse appeared to be tripped as he ran onto Bates flick on but instead the ref showed him a yellow card for simulation.
Inside a minute Tuffey made another good save to push Heatley’s well-struck shot over the bar.
In the 72nd minute Bates laid the ball off to James Singleton and, from 30 yards, he saw his shot spilled by O’Neill who then hooked the ball away with his boot but the offside flag went up against the Glenavon player who had followed the ball in.
Bradley replaced Moorhouse in the 76th minute and four minutes later he almost got the equaliser when Patton and Bates linked up just outside the box and Bates fed Bradley but O’Neill pulled off a great save.
The Crues went 3-1 up in the 81st minute when Caddell raced onto a through ball and beat the offside line. Tuffey raced out to try to get to the ball first but Caddell skipped past his challenge, raced to the bye-line before laying the ball on a plate for Jordan Owens to tap in.
Bates must have thought he’s got on the score sheet five minutes from time when he headed the ball goal-wards after O’Neill had failed to clear Singleton’s cross but Owens blocked it on the goal line and BJ Burns hacked the ball clear.
Crusaders: O’Neill (c), Burns, Beverland, Gault, McClean, Heatley, Caddell, Forsythe, Whyte, Owens, Cushley. Subs: Lowry (Forsythe 90+1), Mitchell, Carvill, Dougherty, Clarke (Cushley 84)
Glenavon: Tuffey, Marshall, Elebert, Lindsay, Neill, Hall, Patton, Sykes, Singleton, Bates, Moorhouse. Subs: Cooper (Neill 66), Bradley (Moorhouse 76), Marron, McGrory (Hall 81), O’Brien
Referee: Keith Kennedy