CARRICK Rangers slipped to four points from safety following this defeat at Seaview.
Rangers moved in front after barely three minutes through Shane Dolan after he made the most of some poor defending to send the ball past Sean O'Neill's reach into the bottom right corner.
At the other end the Crues might have levelled soon after when 'keeper Paul Murphy saved a David McMaster effort with his feet before the rebound came off Jordan Owens and fell to safety.
But Crusaders did equalise on 20 minutes through Declan Caddell with a close range header from a David Gibson cross.
Carrick might have gone back in front moments later courtesy of a 25-yard dipping Grant Hutchinson which travelled just over.
The Crues edged into the lead on 58 minutes in somewhat fortunate circumstances after Carrick defender David Bell headed the ball past his own 'keeper from an inswinging Matt Hazley free-kick.
The outcome was put beyond doubt on 78 minutes following an Aidan Watson right-footed drive into the top corner.
Crusaders: O'Neill, Gibson, Magowan, McKeown, Gargan, McMaster, Hazley, Watson, Caddell, Owens, Dallas subs Coates (replaced Gibson 74), Snoddy (not used), Halliday (replaced Owens 78), Morrow (replaced Caddell 78), McCann (not used)
Carrick Rangers: Murphy, Murray, Bell, Hyland, Hutchinson, Byrne, Kane, Dolan, Deans, Harmon, Addis subs Brennan (not used), McDowell (replaced Deans 61), Taggart (not used), McDermott (replaced Addis 77), Hogan (not used)
- Jordan Owens and David Bell (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/PressEye.com)