Record in sight for Crusaders’ Jamie McGonigle
Jamie McGonigle may be too late for both Christmas presents and New Year resolutions but the young forward has set his sights on delivering a personal record.
McGonigle grabbed the first goal in Crusaders’ weekend success over Carrick Rangers with a spectacular drive into the top corner from outside the box.
It helped the 23-year-old hit 20 goals in Crues colours following an August switch to the Seaview squad from Coleraine.
Having reached the 20-goal landmark, McGonigle is determined to add to that tally and break his personal best in the process.
“I think that’s 20 goals in all competitions now, which is the highest I’ve ever scored so just need one more,” said McGonigle. “The full-time training is really helping and I just want to keep on improving.
“Training four times a week is improving my fitness levels.
“Getting that first goal early on provided us with a cushion but we know Carrick can score so made sure to defend then hit on the counter.
“Jordan fired it in to me so I didn’t have much time to think, it was just about taking a touch and hit and I found the top corner.
“I caught it on the swivel and was thinking if I got a good connection towards the far side it would have a chance.
“The way Carrick played with three at the back and two wing-backs I felt if I could get in behind there would always be space, so was trying to exploit that as much as I could.
“That suits my game playing with pace and was able to put a few balls across the box.
“Playing with Jordan Owens is a gift as I can just make runs and the ball will fall to me, so I’m definitely enjoying it.
“Then Paul Heatley coming off the substitutes’ bench - you know he’s going to bring that trickery and it shows the quality on the bench as he set up a goal for Jordan Owens and then the cross for the own goal.
“For Jordan Forsythe’s goal I looked up and saw Jordan Owens running towards the back stick so that’s where I tried to put it.
“I think it hit his heel but fell to Jordan to get his reward for a great run.”
Glentoran - having secured a string of high-profile signings in the January transfer window in preparation for a final title push - hold a one-point advantage over third-placed Crusaders, with Linfield top.
“There was a lot of business done in the January transfer window and I kept getting messages asking about Crusaders signings,” said McGonigle. “But if you look at our squad we have at least two or three people for every position really so stand in a strong position for the run-in.”