Stephen Baxter warns of battles ahead as Crusaders grab point against Ballinamallard
Ballinamallard United 1-1 Crusaders
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter believes that every point won is a hard earned one in the Premiership.
His men required an 87th minute goal from substitute Diarmuid O'Carroll to take a share of the spoils against Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park on Saturday.
The hosts had looked set to follow up Wednesday night's League Cup win over Linfield by taking the scalp of the champions after Steve Feeney headed them into a 52nd minute lead only for the Crues to swoop late on.
"All the points when you get them, whether it is one point or three points, are points gained," said Baxter.
"This league has shown over the last couple of years that there are no easy games anywhere you go, whether you are top of the table or twelfth. You will fight for every single point you get this year, the games are incredibly tight.
"There are teams scrapping in the bottom four, there are teams scrapping in the middle four and there are teams scrapping in the top four so we're just happy to get up the road with something under our belt and we'll regroup again for Glenavon next week which is another tough game."
Crusaders struggled to breakdown a well organised home outfit throughout the contest and Baxter added: "We would be pleased with a point as we had a lot to deal with and the Mallards played particularly well I felt."
Opposite number Whitey Anderson said: "I'm disappointed with the goal, Liam Martin clears the ball and it hits the boy's hand and lands at his feet and the next thing they score.
"I thought the referee was poor today.
"What has happened this last five or six weeks is that there has been a real desire and commitment and a good shape. They are not going to give in easy or be rolled over."
BALLINAMALLARD: Rouse, McMenamin, McLoughlin, Martin, Lafferty, McCartney, Beacom (Feeney, 20 mins [Courtney, 73 mins]), Lecky, McCrudden, Campbell, Friars
Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Robinson, Forsythe (O'Carroll, 75 mins), McClean, Owens, Snoddy, Clarke, Heatley, Whyte (Carvill, 63 mins), Mitchell (Stewart, 68 mins)
Man of the Match: Steve Feeney
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)