Stephen Baxter picking out positives from Crusaders’ last-gasp draw

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter.
Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter.

Crusaders gained a share of the spoils on Saturday night but, given earlier results, lost a share of the league lead.

Coleraine’s victory in the afternoon kick-off over Linfield put the Bannsiders out in front at the head of the Danske Bank Premiership standings.

The Crues’ hopes, following the final whistle at Coleraine, of moving back on level terms at the top of the table finished in a 2-2 draw under the Mourneview Park floodlights.

Crusaders broke the deadlock but required a last-gasp equaliser to salvage a point.

“I only concentrate on what we do and how we do it so focus on our own team affairs,” said Crues boss Stephen Baxter. “There’s a long way to go in this league and we’ll just play the games as they come.

“They all come thick and fast this time of year.

“It was a good game of football, very open and both teams really went at it, with a lot of chances.

“We had very clearcut chances and missed three gilt-edged chances but also, in chasing the game to get that equaliser, left ourselves wide open.

“If not for a couple of really good interceptions we could have been done for a couple more goals at the end.

“But we fought bravely to get that point, so I’m pleased with that.

“You hope after taking the lead before half-time you push on in the second half and get the break of the ball.

“One of our big misses was when the ball was squared to Paul Heatley after a brilliant run by Billy Joe Burns and he missed, then Glenavon go up the pitch and score.

“That’s the way football is - Glenavon played really well on the counter-attack, they have that capability of working it quickly up the flanks and they broke very well.

“From our viewpoint we’ve a number of injuries, which is concerning so the squad is stretched but everybody’s in the same boat so there’s no complaints.

“It was strange, I thought we were starting to get our foot in the game over the first 15 or 20 minutes of the second half and really powering to try and get that second goal.

“We didn’t deal with a couple of balls and Glenavon started getting into spaces behind us and worked a lovely move to score a good goal.

“Then we were pushing after the game a little bit and, with one or two tired legs, we made a couple of changes.

“When the game goes the other way on you and you concede a goal you’re losing so make changes and moved our shape into a 4-4-2 to try and nick that goal.

“We threw everything at it and got the goal right at the death, so that’s good.

“We conceded a goal up here I remember last year by way of a penalty to lose the game with the last kick.

“So we’ll be pleased we got something out of it.

“You are here to try and win all three points but have to take it as it comes.

“So not frustrated one bit or disappointed, we’ll take the point and move on.”