Dungannon Swifts seeking right balance going into top-of-the-table clash with Crusaders

Dungannon Swifts boss Kris Lindsay. Pic by INPHO.
Dungannon Swifts boss Kris Lindsay. Pic by INPHO.

Kris Lindsay wants to turn a dream start to the Danske Bank Premiership season into Dungannon Swifts’ long-term reality.

The Swifts visit Seaview for a top-of-the-table clash against a Crusaders side comfortable looking down on the rest of the top division.

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter.

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter.

In contrast, Lindsay’s Swifts must adjust to the rarified air of life at the head of the pack but it is a learning curve the Dungannon boss is keen for his young panel to embrace.

Although aware that reality must temper any ambition by the high-flying Swifts squad, Lindsay also has the drive to seek such a stage as common ground.

“We can enjoy what has been a strong start and the goal is to try and maintain those standards,” said Lindsay. “There can be a dangerous line, of course, between drawing off that increased self-belief to continue to push forward and, due to confidence, going all-out against any team in this league.

“It is especially true against a side of Crusaders’ quality, especially when at home, so we are aware of the challenge ahead this weekend but we also want to remain positive.

“That winning feeling is something we want our players to embrace and push in search of week in, week out as that marks the top teams out from the rest.

“It is finding that spot so the basics become standard then you use your confidence to show the adventure needed to win games.

“So many of our players have not had that feeling before at this level, so we need to change the mindset to that point it is about more than a bright start to the season but instead about consistency.

“In every game teams will have periods on top or on the backfoot and our work is towards trying to do the hard stuff together when under pressure then have the ambition to maximise the spells that go in your favour.

“And, to be honest, Crusaders stand as a brilliant example of exactly those qualities.

“They have players capable of producing at the very top over a decade or longer in this league.

“That is the learning experience we want our younger players to take from games against sides the quality of Crusaders, on top of everything else that goes into competing.”

Crusaders’ perfect start to the Premiership programme ended with a share of the spoils last weekend against a Larne side rising up the ranks thanks to recent significant financial investment.

Larne’s astute application of that financial boost and the fine form on display from Dungannon Swifts mark two of the early chapters in this season’s Irish League story - with experienced manager Stephen Baxter relishing, as a result, what he anticipates as an extremely competitive campaign.

“Last week against Larne it was a case of two good teams going for it, with a draw probably fair, now we welcome a Dungannon team who may surprise some but not me as I know the quality players on board and how they have, in Kris Lindsay, an exceptional young manager.

“The league is still so early into everything but we can expect a really competitive season and there is a real freshness to the Premiership at the minute.

“I’ve found over the years that these early periods are interesting as everyone basically starts off on the same level before injuries and suspensions really start to impact on squads.

“We are pleased with our start, especially the fact that this season we’ve managed to avoid any negative hangover from European football and the different demands it places.

“Our only disappointment from the Larne draw was the manner in which we conceded both goals but to have 10 points from four games is pleasing.

“Although I keep on stressing it is so early in the season, you never want to be playing catch-up.”