A Paul Heatley inspired Crusaders are off and running with a 4-1 win over Ballymena United.

Last season’s runners-up went behind to a Matthew Shevlin strike on 55 minutes but were level on 62 thanks to Heatley. And after the winger got Kyle Owens dismissed for a professional foul, Heatley smashed home his and his side’s second – a half volley from outside the box.

Skipper Colin Coates netted with a header and Jordan Forsythe added a late one as his side cruised, in the end, to a dramatic opening night victory.

A feisty first-half had ended 0-0 despite a few threatening moments. Crusaders’ best move of the half saw Philip Lowry send Jordan Owens away down the right. His cut-back was perfect for the marauding Declan Caddell, but the finish was fluffed. At least that can be blamed on early season rust.

At the other end, the closest Ballymena came was through a Leroy Millar thunderbolt that tested former Burnley stopper Brian Jensen – an exam he passed with flying colours.

Have a look at the game as it happened right here:

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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