Belfast Telegraph

Baxter is relishing the big games at business end of the campaign

By Alex Mills

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter believes it's onwards and upwards as his team close in on a record-busting hat-trick of Danske Bank Premiership title wins.

With only six games remaining, the Shore Road boys have maintained their impressive seven point lead at the top of the table - and there appears to be no cracks in their armour.

It may have taken two moments of magic from the mercurial Paul Heatley to guarantee the latest installment - a 3-1 win over Ballinamallard United on Monday night - but the reality is Baxter's team are now within touching distance of the Gibson Cup once again.

The Crues' title credentials face another test tomorrow when they make the journey to face a Coleraine team that are unbeaten in their last 13 outings.

And, with a showdown against second-placed Linfield at Windsor Park looming, it prompted a bullish reaction from Baxter, who stated 'bring them on'.

"Coleraine will be a difficult game for us - a different test," he said. "We've had couple of games at Seaview and we were able to zip the ball about, pass it and work it. It will be a different surface to negotiate at Coleraine. It's a tough venue, but we are looking forward to it.

"We've got ourselves into a great position, we've six games to go, we have got to go and try and win a title, so bring them on!

"Questions were asked of us, people were putting on pressure from lots of different circles after the gap at the top was cut to four points, but we answered those really well. We are now at the business end of the season. Games are coming thick and fast. It's all about trying to put points on the board and moving on.

"We've a couple of big matches coming up but we'll not get ahead of ourselves. We'll take one game at a time - our focus is on Coleraine."

Baxter was thrilled how his team did against the Mallards.

He added: "We were frustrated at half-time because we played so well in the first half. We played against a very strong breeze, but we dominated possession.

"We had to rethink it at half-time. I had it worked out in my head, we would change it if we didn't get the breakthrough within 10 minutes of the second half.

"As soon as we made the changes, we got the goal and we dominated the rest of the game. The score probably didn't reflect on how well we played. Gavin Dykes admitted to me afterwards that it was a training session for us, which says it all."

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