Crusaders 2, Maiden City 0
CRUSADERS booked their place in the sixth round of the Irish Cup as they saw off the plucky challenge of Intermediate minnows, Maiden City at Seaview.
The Irish League leaders got off to a dream start as Jordan Forsythe took advantage of a defensive lapse and found the net with a sublime lob after just 70 seconds.
Maiden City would've been fearing the worst after that start but deserve huge credit as they kept themselves in the game until the 86th minute when David Cushley put the tie to bed.
There was never any danger of Maiden City causing what would've been a seismic shock with lone striker, Patrick Ward isolated for much of the game but it was a hugely credible result for the Intermediate League outfit which was formed just two years ago!
Crusaders were dominant and hit the woodwork no less than FOUR times in the second half but it was a valiant effort from the Derry men.
The Hatchet men showed their Intermediate League opponents plenty of respect by fielding a strong line-up. Indeed, the Crues made five changes from the team which defeated Ballinamallard at Ferney Park with Howard Beverland, Colin Coates and Gavin Whyte all rested while Paul Heatley and Jordan Owens dropped to the bench.
Stephen Baxter still opted for a vastly experienced starting XI which included former Derry City duo, Philip Lowry and Mark McChrystal.
It was the worst possible start for the visitors who found themselves behind after just 70 seconds.
Maiden City centre half, Michael O'Hara miscued his clearance under pressure from Forsythe who latched onto the loose ball and lobbed over the head of Conor Brady with a neat finish.
The Derry side settled into the game but were fortunate not to be further behind on 10 minutes when Forsythe's drilled cross was headed narrowly over by Lowry.
David Cushley then fired just wide of the left post with a decent effort on the half volley with 27 minutes on the clock but Maiden City were growing in confidence.
And while the Derry side were feeding off scraps up front they fully deserved to be still in the game at the interval.
The Crues began the second half with real intent and Cushley's curling free kick from 30 yards crashed off the crossbar on 52 minutes.
The Crues midfielder struck the woodwork again on 64 minutes with a terrific long distance effort which bounced back off the foot of the post.
Maiden City were riding their luck as Jamie Glackin's free-kick hit the underside the crossbar and goalkeeper, Conor Brady did superbly to block Billy Joe Burns' follow up shot.
Brady again came o his side's rescue on 70 minutes as he got a strong hand to Matthew Snoddy's powerful drive.
And for a fourth time the Hatchet men smashed his 25 yard strike before Cushley finally found the net with a superb volley with six minutes to go.
Brady beat away substitute, Paul Heatley's strike with another excellent save as Crusaders finished strongly
Crusaders - S. O'Neill; B. Burns, M. McChrystal, S. Wards, C. McClean; D. Cushley, M. Snoddy (R. Nimick 87), ; D. Caddell, P. Lowry, J. Forsythe (P. Heatley h-t); D. Caddell, J. Glackin; Subs Not Used - M. Dougherty, J. Owens, L. Anderson.
Maiden City - C. Brady; R. Harkin, M. O'Hara, C. Loughrey, J. Hale; R. Semple (C. Cooley 70), J. McClay, D. McCready, A. Walsh, , A. Rogan (A. Scott 60); P. Ward (S. Ferry 80); Subs Not Used - K. Mulcahy, J. King, C. Mansfield, L. Roddy.
Referee - Lee Tavinder.