Crusaders 2 Portadown 0: Stephen Baxter believes that league leaders Cliftonville are the team to stop this season — but says his Crusaders side are capable of matching them.
Crusaders' 2-0 win over Portadown, courtesy of goals from Jordan Owens and Timmy Adamson, moved them into second place in the Danske Bank Premiership, but they are seven points behind the rampant Reds.
“Cliftonville are the team in form at the moment,” said Baxter.
“They've got two of the best strikers in the country and two great strikers scoring goals can win you leagues.
“They're the team to stop at the moment and they're enjoying a great run of form, but there will be difficult hurdles for them to come this season. It's not even Christmas yet, after all.
“Of course, we beat them 3-1 earlier in the season at Seaview and we were the better team on that occasion. We've showed we are capable of matching them.”
Baxter thinks that this season’s Premiership is the most entertaining in years, with a number of teams all in the mix as we approach December.
“We've seen what Coleraine are capable of, Glentoran are starting to re-emerge as a force and you rule out Linfield at your peril,” said Baxter. “I'm sure they will be strong after Christmas, as they always are.
“It's great to have a competitive league with so many teams capable of competing for trophies.”
Reflecting on the Crues’ comfortable 2-0 win over an under-performing Portadown, he added: “I thought we dominated the game from start to finish. It was a very professional performance.
“When we came forward, we moved with pace and that caused Portadown problems. We've got something about us at the moment.”
Crusaders took the lead in the seventh minute when Owens powered in a header from the edge of the six yard box. The goal was created by Gary McCutcheon, who found space on the right-flank and delivered the perfect cross.
The Crues finished the game as a contest in the 56th minute when Gareth McKeown flighted a cross into the box from deep for Timmy Adamson to head home from less than six yards.
Portadown were reduced to 10 men in the 74th minute when Garry Breen picked up his second yellow card for bringing down substitute David Rainey.