Adam Lecky’s strike in the opening quarter of an hour proved to be the only goal of the game at Seaview, as Larne lost their 100% start to the campaign.
In a keenly contested affair Larne were unable to find a reply in front of goal as the home side held out for all three points in a 1-0 victory.
The home side started the game strongly and Paul Heatley was first to test Rohan Ferguson on nine minutes, when the diminutive forward beat the offside trap and brought a good save from the visiting goalkeeper from a tight angle.
Seven minutes later, Crusaders did have the ball in the net. A deep ball to the back post from Ben Kennedy didn’t look to be causing Larne too many problems.
However, a static defence expected Rohan Ferguson to gather and with the goalkeeper not sensing the danger, it allowed BJ Burns to lob the ball back across the face of goal for Adam Lecky to nod home.
Ferguson redeemed himself on 22 minutes, as Heatley again found space to unleash a half volley, which the Scotman pawed out of the top corner.
Larne came into the game as the half wore on, but had to wait until stoppage time for their best opportunity.
Ben Doherty’s free-kick from the right flank met the head of skipper Jeff Hughes, which brought a fantastic save out of Johnny Tuffey.
Half-time: Crusaders 1 Larne 0
The second half began the way the first half ended, with Larne going close, this time Ronan Hale just failed to stab home a ball across the face of goal.
At the other end, it was almost 2-0 on 56 minutes when Heatley picked up a loose ball in the Larne rearguard but lobbed just the wrong side of the post.
Visiting captain Hughes looked to be Larne’s most likely source of a goal and he came within a whisker again on 57 minutes, but his header was gratefully held by Tuffey.
This was as close as Lynch’s men came to an equaliser, with Crusaders almost wrapping up a minute from time, but Paul Heatley fired just wide.
Full-time: Crusaders 1 Larne 0
Crusaders: Tuffey, Burns, Kennedy, Lecky (’81 Owens), Forsythe, O’Rourke, Larmour, Thompson, Heatley, Robinson, McMurray (’46 Lowry)
Unused subs: O’Neill, Hegarty, Wilson, Frazer, Doyle
Larne: Ferguson, Balmer, Nasseri (’65 McDaid), Randall, (’71 Lynch), Hale (’81 Oluwa), Doherty, Mitchell, Bolger, Cosgrove, Hughes, Jarvis (’81 Scott)
Unused subs: Argyrides, Kelly, Watson
Referee: Ian McNabb