Belfast Telegraph

Warren Feeney's exit will not hurt Linfield says Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter

Crusaders 1-0 Warrenpoint

By Graham Luney

Stephen Baxter doesn't believe Warren Feeney's Linfield exit will knock the Blues' title challenge off course.

Feeney left Windsor Park last week to join John Sheridan's managerial team at Newport County, leaving Linfield to begin the search for a new manager.

The Shore Road side are now ahead of the Blues on goal difference at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership and look to have a squad capable of maintaining a challenge to the finish line.

Linfield conceded a late equaliser against Glentoran on Saturday but Crues boss Baxter, who won two titles at Windsor as a player, expects his cross-town rivals to keep flexing their muscles.

"I've no idea what will happen at Linfield but they are a top, top side," said Baxter.

"They are level with us at the top of the table so they should be satisfied with their opening salvo.

"There are very capable people there.

"Andy Todd played in the professional game in England and knows the game inside out while Alfie Wylie has spent a lifetime in football.

"They'll not be rushed into anything but my concentration is on my team.

"We have a tough trip to Ballinamallard United next weekend and they are a strong side.

"We always face a difficult game there and you won't get easy points anywhere in this league. You've got to fight for every point like we did here to see this game out.

"Warrenpoint Town had a lot of possession in our half in the last 20 minutes which I wasn't happy about we saw the job through."

The Crues entertain Institute at Seaview on Wednesday night in the League Cup before the Mallards test and a 12-game unbeaten run underlines their resilience.

They had to did deep against Warrenpoint Town who fought hard but suffered a slender defeat courtesy of Diarmuid O'Carroll's exquisite header from Billy Joe Burns' cross in the 47th minute.

It should have been O'Carroll's second of the afternoon but the striker failed to beat keeper Aaron Shanahan in the 16th minute and Jordan Owens clipped the ball onto the crossbar in the second half when well positioned to find the net.

Crues defender Craig McClean said: "Diarmuid has been in and out of the side but when he plays he never lets us down and it's a squad game with the players knowing they face a fight to get into the team."

The visitors went home with no points but boss Barry Gray was not despondent.

"All the other results went our way and we have lost nothing and gained nothing," he said.

"Points are crucial in the bottom six and we have Linfield on Saturday so we will be looking to keep Mark Haughey quiet for once."

CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Robinson, Coates, McClean, Mitchell, Snoddy, Clarke, Carvill (Molloy, 88 mins), O'Carroll, Owens, Burns. Unused subs: McKibbin, O'Flynn, Vauls, Magowan.

Warrenpoint: Shanahan, King (Donnelly, 85 mins), McVeigh, McDonald (M Hughes, 62 mins), D Hughes, S Hughes, McCabe (Murray, 81 mins), Dane, Bagnall, Moan, Boyle. Unused subs: Clarke, Kierans.

Man of the Match: Richard Clarke

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)

Belfast Telegraph


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