Glenavon produced a superb display on Friday night to leave stormy Seaview with a vital point after the game finished 2-2.
The Lurgan Blues may not have won at the Shore Road venue in the last nine attempts, but they came mighty close with former Crues pair Gareth McKeown and David Rainey the men on target.
Crusaders took the lead after eight minutes through Jordan Owens. Gary McCutcheon created the opening and the big former Northern Ireland Under-21 international was totally unmarked in front of goal to fire past James McGrath.
Glenavon were back on level terms on 24 minutes. Brian McCaul’s wind assisted corner kick from the left completely deceived keeper Sean O’Neill and McKeown added the finishing touch to drive it over the line.
Glenavon made a great start to the second half and Rainey struck on 50 minutes. He picked up pass from Mark Patton, cut inside before unleashing a thundering drive into the top corner, in spite of a despairing dive by O’Neill.
Just when Glenavon were heading for a surprise win, Richard Clarke spoiled the party with a stunning strike from all of 30 yards out on 77 minutes.
The Crues pushed hard to find a winner that would have kept in on the tails of the top two, but Glenavon held out for a deserved point.
Crusaders: O’Neill, Leeman, Magowan, McClean, Robinson, Caddel (Snoddy 90), McMaster (Smith 61), Heatley, Clarke, McCutcheon (E McAllister 61), Owens.Subs: Hanley, D McAllister.
Glenavon: McGrath, McCallion, Kilmartin, Rainey (McDaid 86), Patton, Marshall, McKeown, McCabe, Singleton, McCaul (McGrory 72), Mulvenna (Bates 75).Subs: McIlveen, Dane.
Ref: R Dunlop.