IRISH LEAGUE: Baxter delighted as Crues keep going

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter says his side's pursuit of a late winner at Warrenpoint was the mark of a good team

The Crues were made to work all the way by Matthew Tipton's side at Milltown before Jordan Owens sealed the win in a five-goal thriller.

Speaking after the game Baxter said: “For 20 minutes we were magnificent. We came at them with everything, we hit a post and we had all sorts of pressure. We really threw everything at them to try and get that early goal.

"We didn’t get it, fiddled about, got a goal and then I thought that was us settled down. Then they turned it for 20 minutes. Their midfield starting finding spaces and started driving through and overloading us. We lost battles in certain area and that turned the games on its head for a little bit. For 20 minutes they were absolutely brilliant.

"They scored two goals and could’ve had a third and half-time couldn’t come quickly enough for me to get them in and sorted out.

“But I though our second half performance was very good to come from behind. We had to be patient and get the right balls in. They [Warrenpoint] had to defend for their lives and I thought they were excellent today. They will feel a little bit unlucky, because they were ahead in the game and, at home, maybe they thought they were deserving of something. But I just thought we lifted our games towards the last 15 minutes searching for the winner and that’s the mark of a good team.

“Jordan will be the first to say that he hasn’t played as well as he would have liked in the last few weeks. But what he gives you is honesty and always a shift. He gives you everything he has in the tank. We put a lot of pressure on him to play an awful lot of games, but if you put a ball into him in the right area, he will score. When the cross came in perfectly for him, that was always going to be a goal.

“That’s the pleasing aspect; when you get a couple of decent deliveries in and you score from them. There were other opportunities where we really should have punished them, but we didn’t and, if you allow a team to come into the game and they get their tails up, sometimes you have to work even harder.

“On the whole, Jordan’s performance today, he will be pleased he gets the winning goal, but I’m looking for a little bit more from a lot of them.

“It was really important that we got playing today, given the amount of cup games we have. [If it had been postponed], you then shove another midweek fixture in and we’re still playing catch-up on the Carrick game that we’re still waiting to play from ages ago. We don’t want the games in hand so it was good for us to play and get a game out of the way.

“There are so many games coming up thick and fast. Tuesday night, Saturday Glenavon, Ballymena, Cliftonville, Linfield, Ballinamallard, so a lot of games of football coming in a very short space of time and the squad is already very thin at the moment."

It was another frustrating finish for Town boss Tipton as his side finished with nothing to show for their efforts.

"We can’t seem to see a game out," he said. “It comes from not winning matches. When you’re top of the league and winning week in, week out, it’s easier to see a game out but I said it last week and I’m going to say it again, we were naïve.

“Jordan Owens in six foot four and the best header of the ball in the country and we’ve let him have a free header inside the six-yard box.

“If some puts together six or seven passes and then whacks one in against us, then I would probably hold my hands up. It was good cross and a good header but, I’m looking at our strikers and they’re having to compete against two six foot monsters to get a header but their guy gets a free one in our box.

“We have to take heed and learn and learn quickly. We’re now in a situation where we better hurry up and quickly learn.

“We went in at half-time reasonably happy because we restricted them, by and large, we scored two and we maybe could have had one more.

“I don’t think that was our best performance. We didn’t play any football, but what we did was we fought and battled and put our bodies on the line at times, especially in the first half blocking shots and we created opportunities. But we need three points and we need them quickly.

“We have to see it out. When we’re 2-1 up against the likes of Crusaders and we have to punish them when they’re down. We have to keep our foot on their throats if you like. We had a great opportunity to make it 3-1 through Darren [Murray] and while their keeper makes a good save, we have to score one-on-ones.

“We have to have the ability to keep going, knowing that we have had them on the racks. We have to keep making sure that we keep doing what we were doing in the first half and continue into the second half."