Footballers are competitive animals and with nothing left to fight for after one of the longest, most combative seasons in their history it was perhaps inevitable that Ballymena United’s campaign would end with a whimper.
Having secured European football in midweek, Ballymena fielded an experimental side while Crusaders’ line-up also had an unfamiliar look with the Irish Cup final looming on Saturday.
Rory Patterson had the Crues in front after 11 minutes with a neat turn and shot past Jordan Williamson from 18 yards.
On 31 minutes, Howard Beverland found Ronan Hale with a long ball but his angled shot drifted wide.
Five minutes before the break, Ryan Mayse’s shot was blocked on the line and then Fra Nolan’s effort met a similar fate.
Then, on 41, Kofi Balmer’s long-range effort skimmed wide.
Crusaders made it 2-0 after 42 minutes when Ross Clarke’s shot took a wicked deflection.
After the interval, Crusaders introduced David Cushley and within eight minutes of coming on he laid on the simplest of chances for Matthew Snoddy to slam home.
Ballymena introduced Johnny McMurray in search of some added pep but there were to be no rabbits pulled out of any hats.
Cushley and Patterson came close late on for Crusaders but it stayed 3-0.
For Ballymena, the afternoon was flat beer after the champagne of midweek - but what a season for David Jeffrey’s Light Blues.