Belfast Telegraph

I'll always cherish goal against the Reds: Beverland

By Conor McLaughlin

Howard Beverland rates the derby day strike that helped Crusaders sink Cliftonville on Boxing Day as the most special goal of his career.

Not that he has a bulging back catalogue to choose from, the Crues centre-half says the memory of his 53rd-minute conversion at Solitude will live with him for a long time - but admits it's probably the easiest goal he'll ever score.

"I couldn't exactly miss it, could I?" he smirked as he recalled touching the ball into an empty net after Jordan Owens' header had come back off the post.

"I don't score too many and I think this might be the first time I've scored twice in the same season, but that's definitely the most special one for me.

"To get it in a derby game right in front of our own fans like that was great and I'll certainly treasure it."

Though Crusaders would go on to record an emphatic 4-0 success, Beverland's goal came just after Cliftonville had passed up two glorious opportunities - including a penalty - to equalise and was worth its weight in gold when it came to knocking the stuffing out of Gerard Lyttle's side.

Former Coleraine favourite Beverland has been no stranger to delivering on the derby stage over the years but added that his first taste of the festive north Belfast duel was everything he had been expecting and hoping for.

"These games are always big no matter what time of the year they're at but it's always extra special when you win on Boxing Day," he said.

"Scoring is a bonus, especially for someone like me who doesn't do it that often, but the whole occasion was just fantastic.

"We played Cliftonville a couple of months ago and came back from 3-0 down to beat them 4-3 but we've always admitted that we were played off the park that day. Cliftonville were brilliant and we couldn't get near them, but we somehow did enough to get back into the game, turn it around and win it.

"This match was different because it didn't take us anywhere near as long to settle in and play our own style of football.

"I think our attitude was summed up in injury-time when, at 4-0 up, we had two players squeezing up high to put pressure on their left-back and forced him to concede possession down in the corner.

"It was a great performance all round from us and even better to hear that, because of results elsewhere, we had extended our lead at the top of the table to seven points - but we're not reading anything into that.

"If we lose our next game, the gap's down to four and that's nothing really, so the way we went about things against Cliftonville is how we need to approach Linfield on New Year's Eve."

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