Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Ballymena United 2 Crusaders 1

Stephen Baxter waved three points goodbye at the Ballymena Showgrounds and the Crusaders boss may be about to do likewise to an even more precious commodity.



Young defender Josh Robinson, who has played only a handful of games for the north Belfast side, could be on his way back to full-time football, just months after his release by Rangers.

The 19-year-old was watched on Saturday by former Burnley and Wales star Brian Flynn, who was running the eye over the Northern Ireland Under-21 international for Doncaster Rovers manager Dean Saunders.

Unfortunately, it was Robinson’s slip that allowed Alan Davidson to cancel out Gary McCutcheon’s opener against his old side, Ballymena United, who went on to win a game in which they were under the cosh for long periods, thanks to James Costello’s first goal of an injury-ravaged season.

Hopefully that rare blip won’t hamper Robinson’s chances of a cross-channel move and Baxter would be delighted to see him go.

"They made an enquiry and they’ve been over to watch him a couple of times and they’re going to have a little chat with him, but at this time that’s all it is," he explained.

"Josh is a young player, he’s come back over from Scotland and looks a good player. He’s done very well in the last five or six games and I think he’s cut out for full-time football.

"I think he’ll make the transition. Whether it’s with Doncaster or whoever we’ll wait and see.

"I’ll pack their bags, put them on the plane and take them over myself if necessary because these lads are young players looking for a career and if they have the potential talent to make it then that’s what they should do and we shouldn’t stand in their way.

"They’ve got to play at the top of their game and we’ll see where Josh’s talents take him.

"If they don’t make it across the water then we’ll welcome them back."

Opposite number Glenn Ferguson is just as happy to see his two goalscorers back as injuries and suspensions continue to ravage his threadbare squad.

What his squad lacks numerically is more than compensated for by a granite-like determination in his Sky Blue outfit and that was shown in spades as they could easily have capitulated again, having handed the visitors a first-half lead.

But Davidson’s leveller, followed by Costello’s first of the campaign, turned the game on its head although they were helped in no small part by a Crusaders side that should have made much more of their territorial dominance.

Costello finished last season like a house on fire but injury had largely made this season a damp squib. He exploded back into life on Saturday, however, with a classic poacher’s goal to seal the victory.

"He finished last season very well and he’s been out injured from the start of the season," Ferguson explained.

"He’s an uncompromising centre forward who maybe isn’t as capable as some others but what you will get is a good, honest shift from him.

"He’s back, he’s playing, working hard and you know he’ll be frustrating at times, but he just wants to play football and he never misses training.

"There’s no pressure on him to score goals. We want him to be a link-up player which we haven’t had since the start of the season and I’m happy for him."

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