Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter looks for Seaview outfit to get back on track

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter is looking to get a positive result against Newry City AFC to kick-start his side’s league campaign.

It’s very early doors but the defending champions lie eighth in the league standings with two wins, one draw and two losses in their opening five games.

But Baxter has been there, done it and bought the t-shirt so many times he will not be getting carried away with his side’s lowly position in the league standings.

“It is just one of those things,” he said. I am always disappointed when I lose a game of football but the two games we have lost were to Coleraine and Linfield and there is always very little between the sides in those games.

“We also drew with Ballymena but it is still very early and I am not anxious about the situation.

“We will look to do our thing and get a result against Newry City and I suppose kick-start our season a little bit.”

The Crues also went out of the Scottish Challenge Cup to Queen of the South 4-3 last weekend but Baxter says he took positives from the game.

“We had 10 minutes of madness and gave ourselves too much to do,” he said. “We were playing catch-up and I thought in the second half we were excellent.

“We were 4-0 down in the first half so to score three and nearly get a result was a bit of a moral victory.

“I will be looking for us to carry our second-half form into the game with Newry.

“They are a good side, well-organised and managed so it will be a tough test for us.”

And the Crusaders manager says he was delighted to see two former players on the scoresheet for Northern Ireland against Israel.

“Gavin Whyte always had the ability and I knew if he was given the chance in full-time football he would flourish,” said Baxter. “And it was good to see Stuart Dallas on target the other night as well, they both came through the club.

“We developed them and it is great to see the two of them doing well, they are good guys and they are still the same guys that turned up at Seaview all those years ago.”

And Newry manager Darren Mullen wants his players to bounce back after the 4-1 defeat to Glentoran last weekend.

“The message to the players after the game against Glentoran was - don’t let it deflate you,” he said. “Yes, be annoyed and have a look at your own performance.

“I thought they tried hard but basic errors have cost us.

“But we’ll look forward to the game on Saturday, playing the league champions away from home is not something to be feared.

“Yes, it’s going to be a difficult game coming off a defeat like that, it doesn’t help in terms of preparation.

“But at the same time, apart from the first half in the Ards game, I thought we’ve acquitted ourselves well so far - we just need to cut out the basic errors to give ourselves a chance.”

And Mullen says the scoreline against the Glens was harsh on his side.

“I thought we deserved something from the game, some of our play was very good and I don’t think 4-1 was a fair reflection of the game,” said Mullen. “The third goal probably summed up our play, we were good in parts, but if you don’t defend and do the basics then you give yourself no chance.

“We got ourselves back into it, but it was a calamity of errors that led to their third goal and the game was over.”