Jordan Owens admits there is a growing belief in the Crusaders’ dressing room that they could end a 16-year wait for the Gibson Cup this season.
The striker scored twice as the Crues edged past Dungannon Swifts on Saturday to move within five points of top spot in the Danske Bank Premiership.
It was the perfect start to a hectic December which sees Crusaders play seven times, including crucial league games against Cliftonville and Linfield.
And Owens, who took his tally for the campaign to 10 goals against Swifts, believes they are good enough to last the distance.
“The squad is definitely capable of winning the league,” he said. “We have players coming back and it shows you the strength in depth which we have.
“Cliftonville dropped points today so we’ve closed the gap on them, and things are pretty tight at the top going into the Christmas period.
“Teams are beating other teams, you look at Linfield dropping points at Lisburn Distillery, so it was a real bonus to get three points today.”
Owens’ double rescued a game which at one point looked to be shifting away from Crusaders.
After a positive start, they fell behind in the 21st minute when Josh Cahoon converted Matt Hazley’s pass to give the Tyrone side a surprise lead.
But Owens took centre stage after half-time, equalising with a stunning right-foot volley before snatching the points when he guided home a pass from Josh Robinson.
“We were terrible in the first half and struggled to get passes together,” Owens (pictured) added.
“But the manager spoke to us at half-time and told us we needed to lift it. We did that in the second half and got the two goals to get three points.
“I was pleased with the goals, especially the first. I would like to score one of those every week but the important thing was three points.”
Dungannon boss Darren Murphy had no complaints with his side’s performance.
“I’m only disappointed when I don’t get everything my team has to offer,” he said.
“Today my players gave their best but it just wasn’t good enough. Crusaders were the better side, and sometimes you just have to accept that.
“Crusaders had an outlet in Jordan Owens, who they used very effectively.”