Paul Heatley scored four goals in the first half as champions Crusaders crushed Carrick Rangers 5-0 at Seaview.

Former Carrick winger Heatley netted the opener in the sixth minute from an acute angle and then it 2-0 with a superb lob from outside the box.

Crusaders skipper Colin Coates and Carrick forward Miguel Chines were sent-off after a midfield clash.

Heatley made it 3-0 and then added a penalty before setting up Andrew Mitchell for the fifth after the break.

Coates was sent-off for raising his arm in a tussle with Chines who seemed baffled to receive a red card as well for his part in the midfield incident.

Second-placed Crusaders remain four points behind leaders Linfield who beat Glenavon 4-3.

Carrick's Miguel Chines and Colin Coates of Crusaders were sent off in the 23rd minute at Seaview

Carrick’s Miguel Chines and Colin Coates of Crusaders were sent off in the 23rd minute at Seaview

What they said

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter: “What a difference a week makes. Paul Heatley was in tears in the dressing room at Coleraine last Saturday after being, in my opinion, wrongly sent-off.

“He gave us a sublime performance today, with his movement and quality.

“He finished off the moves in a team performance.

“Colin Coates has been silly. I don’t know whether he was reacting to something or was the aggressor, but he has thrown a punch and when that happens you have to walk.

“I have no problem with that red card.”