Crusaders go into tonight’s Co-Operative Insurance Cup third round second leg battle with Glenavon at Seaview (7.45) with more than just a spring in their step.
The Crues outfought and outclassed Glentoran at Seaview on Saturday and self-belief is not an issue as they now seek to wipe out the Lurgan Blues’ 2-1 advantage from the first leg.
Gareth McKeown, who manager Stephen Baxter said was “up and down the pitch like a Rolls Royce” against the east Belfast giants, is suspended for two games and his industry and accurate crossing will certainly be missed by the home side.
Goalkeeper Chris Keenan is cup-tied for this fixture so Stephen McKay will fulfil the number one role and aim to stop Davy Larmour, who scored a penalty in the first showdown, from hurting his former employers again.
“We opened up Glentoran and to play so well against a top team fills us with more confidence,” said Baxter.
“But we know in local football that anyone can beat anyone so nothing can be taken for granted. But my boys can rise to the occasion when they have to.
“We’ll not take any risks with the players.
“We have young lads who are chomping to get a game like Declan (Caddell) who came on against the Glens.
“He has high energy, gets about the pitch and is one for the future. We also have Eamon McAllister who lit the place up last year and Alain Emerson.”
Stevie Coulter and Jamie Marks are ruled out by injury while Aaron Black faces a fitness test on a head injury.
Glenavon Director of Football Alan Fraser starts a four-game ban after being sent off at the start of the second half in the recent defeat to Glentoran.