Danske Bank Premiership champions Crusaders may appear to have lacked their usual consistency this season.
Six league games in the Hatchetmen’s record reads three wins, one draw and two defeats.
But their latest victory, a 1-0 home success over Newry City on Saturday past, has moved them into the top six which will have the teams above them on red – and black – alert!
But while some are quick to suggest that the Crues are having an unusually indifferent start midfield ace Matthew Snoddy begs to differ.
Snoddy, who was the standout player on view in the weekend victory over border club Newry, feels that in many ways starting quietly is not that unusual for the Crues.
“Two of the three times we have won the league in the last four years we have got off to a bad start” remembers Snoddy.
“But it’s a long road and as I’ve said there is no panic in our dressing room.
“There are no easy games in this league anymore so you have to turn up each week with the correct attitude and put in a shift.
“Believe me although all the results have not been what we would have wanted there is no panic here. We know what we need to do.”
Newry came to Seaview having made a mixed but not discouraging start to life in the top tier and manager Darren Mullen was a man with a plan.
“When you are coming to the home of the champions Crusaders and have already conceded 9 goals on the road you have to keep it tight and we set ourselves up not to concede initially and to try and build on that.
“ We succeeded extremely well in the first half and had a couple of chances to score ourselves and tried to do the same in the second half but just got undone by what was a frustrating goal.
“It came right through the middle of the pitch, we switched off for a moment and (Paul) Heatley finishes it off.
“Nobody likes getting beaten but when the dust settles I have to be pleased with the fact that we acquitted ourselves so well against the league champions and if we can keep our shape like that going forward and make chances we will be a better team for it.”
Crues counterpart Stephen Baxter was impressed by Newry’s tenacity, work rate and ability to stick to their game plan.
“In this game we had to be patient and work very hard to break down a Newry side who worked terribly hard for the whole game, were disciplined and kept their shape,” he said.
“They defended well but did not trouble us too much at the back. When we got our goal I was pretty hopeful we would see the game out and although we failed to take a couple of chances to get a second goal, we did just that.”
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Burns, Ward, Coates, McChrystal, Glackin (J. Owens 68), Snoddy, Cushley, Carvill 6, Patterson (Caddell 79), Heatley.
NEWRY CITY: Coleman, Montgomery, Mooney, McCaul, King (Lavery 81), McCann, Walker, S. Hughes (McCabe 79), McArdle (Teggart 71), Carville, M. Hughes.