Dungannon bank precious point against league leaders

Dungannon's Ryan Harpur celebrates after putting his side into a 1-0 lead'Photograph:Stephen Hamilton, Presseye

Dungannon's Ryan Harpur celebrates after putting his side into a 1-0 lead'Photograph:Stephen Hamilton, Presseye

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Crusaders were left frustrated after having to battle back to leave Stangmore Park with a point after going behind to a determined Dungannon Swifts side.

The in-form Belfast team had trailed to Ryan Harpur’s deflected goal in the 57th minute, responding through a quickfire equaliser from Paul Healey.

Dungannon – aiming for a third straight win – made one change with Andrew Burns returning in place of teenager Kris Lowe.

Seven straight wins had taken Crusaders six points clear at the top of the table and boss Stephen Baxter named the same eleven that beaten Portadown 6-0 in their last game, and they made a blistering start.

Gavin Whyte’s powerful strike was well blocked by Fra Brennan after 90 seconds, while Heatley steered an effort wide of the back post. Whyte then stole possession in a dangerous area but was brilliantly denied by Andy Coleman.

The chances continued as Heatley set up Richard Clarke, whose effort was parried wide by the goalkeeper.

Dungannon’s only effort of the first half fell to Harpur, whose 25-yard strike skimmed the crossbar on its way over.

Jordan Owens took down a ball on his chest before blasting over from close range, then later he headed wide from Clarke’s free-kick.

The deadlock was finally broken just before the hour – and it was Dungannon who took a shock lead.

Harpur tried his luck from distance and his effort took a big deflection, leaving Sean O’Neill helpless in the visitors’ goal.

The lead was shortlived, alas, with the Crues back on level terms three minutes later. Again there was an element of luck as Heatley’s strike was half-blocked by Coleman, but still had enough power to find the net.