Belfast Telegraph

Our title belief hasn't been shaken by setback: Jordan Owens

By Graham Luney

Crusaders have ground to make up in the title race as they make the long trip to Ballinamallard United today, but striker Jordan Owens remains bullish about their championship chances.

A damaging 2-1 defeat at home to Coleraine has left the Crues six points behind the table-topping Bannsiders, though they have played one fewer game.

Stephen Baxter's side responded to that poor performance by winning 2-1 at Cliftonville but they know they must keep pocketing maximum points to stay in touch with in-form Coleraine and Linfield.

Ferney Park hasn't been a particularly happy hunting ground for the north Belfast side over the years while Gavin Dykes' men are the only Danske Bank Premiership side yet to taste victory and are desperate to turn the tide.

"It wasn't a great performance against Coleraine but that result hasn't shaken our belief we are good enough to win this title," insisted Owens. "But to do that you've got to perform every week. It's early days but we know we must be consistent. This game will be tough as we always find it difficult there and then the Linfield one on Tuesday is a huge test.

"We've just got to work out and do our best, then see where we are around Christmas time."

Owens admits he was impressed with Oran Kearney's side even though his own team were off colour at Seaview.

"Coleraine are a good, young side and they are probably starting to believe they can challenge for the title," he added. "I don't see why not, they could be there or thereabouts but we are focused on our goals and performances.

"There are a lot of teams in this league capable of hurting us. If you lose focus it will cost you."

Owens et al will be reunited with midfielder Richard Clarke, who moved to the Mallards from the Crues in the summer.

"Richard was a key player in the squads that won back-to-back titles and he's a great lad who was also a great servant to the club," added Owens. "Ballinamallard are a great club for him and we all wish him well, but we still want to beat him of course!"

Owens will enjoy a testimonial lunch at Seaview on September 23 in the Social Club (12.30pm). Those interested in supporting the big striker should contact Davey Downes on 0781 201 0056.

"I've been at the club 11 years and it's a long time," he said. "I can remember playing in the old Intermediate League, away to Armagh and then moving in and out of the first team and reserves.

"There's only myself and Colin Coates from that time with Davy Magowan and Davy Rainey moving on.

"It was a great experience but it is different now. The squad is much stronger. We only had 16 players in the older days but we are much better equipped now to challenge for trophies."

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