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We can derail Crues' hopes of treble joy, warns Ogilby

By Graham Luney

David Ogilby has warned Crusaders that his Coleraine can slam the brakes on the Shore Road side's pursuit of a third consecutive league title.

Stephen Baxter's men head to the north west with a healthy seven-point lead over Linfield and a victory over the Bannsiders would be a significant hurdle cleared in the race for the Gibson Cup.

The Blues and Crues will meet at Windsor Park on Saturday, April 8 so if the north Belfast side crash to defeat in their next two games the gap at the top will reduce to a solitary point.

Crusaders' character would really come under the microscope then but the Hatchetmen know they can't release their foot from the pedal with Oran Kearney's troops not suffering defeat in the Premiership since losing 2-0 at Ballymena United on Boxing Day.

Ogilby, who is available for selection again after serving a two-match suspension, says the Crues could be in for a rough ride at the Showgrounds.

"It should be a cracking game as both sides are in great form," said the defender who at the age of 32 is one of the elder statesmen surrounded by precocious young talent.

"Matches between the sides are usually tight and there's an added spice to it with the Crues going for the title and ourselves looking to finish in third.

"There's nothing between the teams and we know that on our day we can beat anyone, as we proved earlier in the season when we beat another top side, Linfield at Windsor Park.

"In terms of the title race, the next few games will tell the story. Seven points is a strong lead but if we beat Crusaders then Linfield are right back in it provided they win their matches.

"We want to try and secure third place so we are going all out to beat every team we come up against.

"Who wins the league title doesn't really concern us, Crusaders shouldn't throw it away from here but strange things can happen in this game. They still have work to do."

Ogilby says Kearney is reaping the rewards of showing faith in the club's emerging talent with aces such as Lyndon Kane, Jamie McGonigle, Mark Edgar, Brad Lyons, Ciaron Harkin, Jordan Allan and Chris Johns showing their class. "At the start of the season we had a small squad of about 17 or 18 players and many of them were young players," said Ogilby.

"We lost Ruairi Harkin and Oran opted to let the young players come through and develop.

"They have performed very well and we have a good balance of youth and experience.

"The 11 wins and two draws in 13 matches is a fantastic run and confidence is high.

"You have an extra spring in your step when form is good, we've come through a bad spell and shown great mental strength to transform our fortunes.

"Yes, the picture looked bleak after losing to Ballymena United on Boxing Day, but we also knew there was a lot of football still to be played this season.

"The next two games now (against Crusaders in the league and Glenavon in the Irish Cup semi-final) are huge for the football club.

"The financial rewards for qualifying for Europe are significant for the club and we will work very hard to grab that chance."

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