SLIGO fell to their first defeat of the season at Seaview last night in the first leg of the semi-final of the Setanta Sports Cup.
Sligo now have a mountain to climb if they are to prevent the Crues from reaching their third final of the season after the Belfast side won the game thanks to a brace from David Rainey.
Crusaders took the lead in the 41st minute when Chris Morrow smashed a 40-yard free-kick across the surface, and Rainey was on hand to deflect the ball into the net from inside the penalty box -- his 19th goal of the season.
Sligo boss Ian Baraclough was not impressed with Neil Doyle's decision to wave away a penalty appeal in the 57th minute when Colin Coates collided with Raffaele Cretaro in the corner of the box.
A much-deserved second goal arrived on the 80th minute when Rainey got on the end of a David McMaster short-corner. Rainey headed in from six yards out in a crowded penalty box.
Sean O'Neill played his part in Crusaders' win, making a superb save from Cretaro in the 87th minute, denying Sligo a crucial away goal.
The second leg will take place at the Showgrounds next Monday night.
Crusaders -- O'Neill, McKeown, Magowan, Coates, McBride, McMaster, Caddell, Morrow, Dallas, Rainey (Owens 83), Adamson.
Sligo Rovers -- Rodgers, Keane, McGuinness (Cawley 78), Davoren, Dillon (Boco 68), Ventre, Lynch, Gaynor, Ndo (Quigley 59), Cretaro.
Ref -- N Doyle (Dublin)