Belfast Telegraph

League there to be won for Crusaders, says Owens

By Graham Luney

Crusaders may be only 90 minutes away from another Irish Cup final appearance but Jordan Owens has warned Linfield that the Gibson Cup is the famous trophy the players really want.

The Crues have gone on a phenomenal eight-match winning run in the Carling Premiership, catapulting them right back into the title race.

Meanwhile, champions Linfield — the last team to conquer the Crues in the Premiership, at Windsor Park on January 4 — have failed to flex their championship muscles, managing only one victory in their last five league outings.

The Crues will be without their skipper Colin Coates this weekend through suspension, but the players who run out at Seaview tomorrow to face derby rivals Cliftonville will be determined to stay hot on the heels of leaders Linfield.

The Reds will expect to face a more formidable line-up on the Shore Road than the second string that went down 4-2 in the first leg of the Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final at Solitude on Monday.

Owens, who headed in the winner against Lisburn Distillery at Ballyskeagh last weekend — his 18th goal of the season — is confident Crusaders can stay in the title shake-up at the finish.

“We have to keep the pressure on Linfield and there is no reason why we cannot keep this great run going for the rest of the season,” said the striker.

“There is a challenge now to see if we can win the league title and now that we have clawed back a big points lead we have given ourselves a chance.

“We are scoring lots of goals and in the last 10 games our |defence has improved a lot.

“Cliftonville are always tough to beat, but we want to keep this run going and keep asking questions of Linfield,” he added. “The boys are playing with confidence and everyone is in good form. The league title is there to be won.”

Some Cliftonville fans will be |allowed to use part the home stand because of ongoing redevelopment work at Seaview.

The redevelopment work has started with regards to new perimeter fencing, a new public address system and new stands at each end.

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Crusaders’ home clash with Linfield on Saturday, March 26 will be all-ticket.

Fans can purchase tickets for the vital league showdown from tomorrow from usual outlets.

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