Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter happy if Whyte stays in shop window

Ballymena U 0 - Crusaders 2

By Billy Weir

It's a Whyte Christmas for Stephen Baxter but the Crusaders boss is wary of singing the praises of one of his shining light too loudly.

It's not that he wants to decry the efforts of young winger Gavin, it's that he doesn't want to lose one of the Premiership's shooting stars who added to his ever-growing reputation with a clinical strike to get the Crues' title aspirations back on track.

With Stephen O'Flynn putting pen to paper on his move from Institute, Baxter's week got even better as his side returned to form in the league with a solid, if unspectacular, win at Ballymena United.

Whyte's effort in the second period wrapped up the win after Josh Robinson stole in to steal the limelight from Colin Coates' goalbound header in the first-half and it's classy finishes like the young winger showed that continue to keep him in the shop window.

"He's doing exceptionally well and he's still very young," said Baxter of the player who has come through the Seaview ranks and doesn't turn 19 until next month.

"There were periods of the game when he was anonymous and he'll need to add that to his game going forward but he's a great talent, an amazing talent.

"We're developing him, teaching him, getting him into this level of football and staying in it is the big thing to do and he's showing great promise right now and we'll continue to watch over him.

"Obviously if big clubs start knocking on our door and their chequebooks are big enough they can have him! There have been a number down looking at him but there's nobody ringing me at the moment and I'm not anxious for the calls to come because the longer he stays with me the better."

O'Flynn is tried and tested and, although slightly longer in the tooth than his new team-mate-to- be, will certainly bolster the Crues' bid for the Gibson Cup.

"It's good to get a player of that quality on board, he knows where the net is, he's a seasoned professional, scoring a lot of goals and you need goals because goals win games," Baxter added.

There would have been concern over the daft second yellow card that Coates picked up for a challenge on Mark Surgenor with the game in its dying embers while United will look to dust themselves off for tomorrow night's trip to Ballinamallard United for the Wasp Solutions League Cup semi-final.

"We could do with a bit of luck anywhere at the minute but it's going to be a difficult game down there, but there's a final at stake and if players can't raise their game for that, then they shouldn't be playing football," said boss Glenn Ferguson.

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