Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Coulter is no fool

Steve oulter displays his Harp Football Writers' Player of the Month award
Steve oulter displays his Harp Football Writers' Player of the Month award

Stevie Coulter collected his Northern Ireland Football Writers' Player of the Month Award for March on April 1 and, not surprisingly, the modest Crusaders favourite thought it was an April Fools' Day joke.

But there was nothing hilarious about the form of the Lisburn man - or that of his comrades who won four of their five fixtures during the month and smashed in 13 goals in the process.

The former Loughgall striker was on target during the 4-1 win over Larne and Stephen Baxter's men also recorded superb wins over Institute (1-0), Newry City (4-1) and Glenavon (0-4).

A 3-0 loss at Donegal Celtic was a disappointing setback but Coulter tortured left backs with his trickery on the right wing.

The 29-year-old has netted eight goals this season but he admits he is his harshest critic.

"I was completely surprised - right up until the day when I picked up the award (Tuesday) I thought it was an April fool," he said. "I was even panicking coming around, thinking it can't be true and I'm really delighted.

"These awards are a reflection on how well the team has been performing and I personally feel that other players in the team are more worthy winners of this award than me.

"I'm always hard on myself and I set myself high standards but I feel that there are other players playing better than me.

"To be selected for this award some people must have felt that I have stood out above the others but I don't feel that is the case.

"This award is a real honour for me. I'll be hard on myself but I feel I have been playing alright. Even if my performance has been good I will always find fault somewhere but when I'm playing well I know I'm playing well.

"I have been doing ok in the last month and this is reflected in this award."

After progressing to two major finals this season - the County Antrim Shield and CIS Insurance Cup decider - the Crues are making considerable strides in the right direction under Baxter.

Coulter is thrilled to be part of a team which is showing plenty of potential and promise as well as a healthy dose of class.

"We are not far off being a top side," he added. "If we had performed better in the league before Christmas we could say we have had a fantastic season.

"Unfortunately there were too many dropped points before the festive period but since then we have been more consistent.

"There have been one or two poor results but when we are playing well we can out-pass anyone. When the confidence is there we are on the edge of challenging at the top of the league.

"But we should keep looking upwards and hopefully pushing into the top five. I'm playing mostly on the right but once in about every ten games I may play up front - and that's where I like playing - but I think I am doing so well on the right Stephen (Baxter) has decided to keep me there."

Crusaders could have a massive say in where the Gibson Cup rests at the end of the campaign as the north-Belfast men take on Glentoran at Seaview on Saturday before visiting Cliftonville next Friday and they finish their campaign at home to Linfield on April 26 after a home clash with Limavady United on April 19.

"We will have a big say in where the trophy goes," added Coulter. "And we aren't afraid of any of them. We can go into the games with confidence as we have nothing to lose."

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