BOTH teams began the match determined to gain the upper hand.
Craigavon made the early running without managing to put Martin Savage, the ever present Gilford goalkeeper, under any real pressure.
Crusaders’ first real chance came in the 14th minute when Conor ‘Buggy’ Magee just failed to get his strike on target.
Craigavon picked up the first of five bookings on 18 minutes. The ensuing free kick was played low across the box only for Sean ‘Wiggy’ Cunningham’s on target shot to be turned round the post. Ryan McDowell then linked up well with Magee and Ruairi Feeney only to see his shot go wide.
Craigavon seemed to be first to every ball as Gilford struggled with positioning and their first touch however their first real chance was a speculative volley from the edge of the box which spun off the bar. This seemed to be the spur that Gilford needed as they started putting more pressure on the City defence. Some fine footwork from Ruairi Feeney saw him beat two defenders and only just fail to get the ball into the waiting strikers.
Gilford’s persistence paid off in the 41st minute as Magee cleared the ball forward for Scott Greenaway to loft the ball over the City defence to Ruairi Feeney who left the last defender standing and curled the ball round the Craigavon keeper, allowing Gilford to take a slim lead into the second half.
Craigavon had an early chance after the restart to level the match as Paddy Finnegan was beaten on the left. The resulting shot was hit low and hard forcing Savage to react quickly to get down to stop the ball.
Another chance came soon after when, after a hard hit shot, the ball seemed to spin up and over the Gilford keeper, only for him to quickly recover and pull off another vital save. In the interim Gilford won a free kick just outside the six yard box which was only just turned round the post. Stephen Donaghy was introduced in the 65th minute, replacing Conor Magee.
The minutes counted down to full time as both teams continued to apply pressure without creating any clear cut scoring chances until the 85th minute when Savage, again, performed heroics to quickly smother two strikes which seemed to be heading in at his left hand post.
The Gilford bench breathed a sigh of relief as the referee brought the match to a close and the three points were secured. This was not the most accomplished performance of the season, but securing the win was the important thing.
Details of the next fixture were not available at the time of writing.