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Baxter backing Crues to extend proud Windsor record

By Graham Luney

Stephen Baxter is confident his Crusaders side can knock the wheels off the Linfield bandwagon again.

The immovable object comes up against the irresistible force at Windsor Park this afternoon as the resilient champions encounter a Linfield side with the wind at their backs.

The Blues are thirsty to move on from a very bleak November and three consecutive wins have went a long way to changing the mood music at the international venue.

David Healy's boys may have been given a new lease of life but Crusaders have no reason to fear anyone in the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Crues have only lost once in the league this season and that was on the opening day against Portadown.

Their unbeaten run of 20 matches is ominous form for their rivals with title aspirations and an eight-point lead over their nearest challengers Cliftonville is a significant advantage.

Linfield, who lost all of their four league battles in November, have slipped nine points behind the Shore Road men and there is huge pressure on them not to lose this Belfast derby today.

The added incentive for the Blues is to end a dismal run against Crusaders as the Hatchetmen are unbeaten in 10 previous visits to Windsor Park, a run stretching back to February 2012.

But it's the Crues' phenomenal form this season that injects confidence into Baxter as he takes his men to the home of Linfield.

"Linfield enjoyed a big win on Boxing Day and they will be feeling upbeat but we have had our own momentum since the start of the season and after that opening day defeat we have been playing some great football," said the former Linfield striker.

"It's a big game for them and a big one for us as well. We are all looking forward to it and we want to keep our good run going."

Crusaders thought they were going to wrap up three points against Cliftonville on Boxing Day until the Reds fought back from 2-0 down to earn a point.

"I think a draw was a fair result as Cliftonville played the better football," added Baxter.

"They didn't break us open and hurt us too much but they certainly played well enough to leave with at least a point."

Crusaders have already enjoyed a victory over the Blues this festive season by pipping them to the signature of Ballymena United ace David Cushley, who will arrive in north Belfast at the end of the season.

"David will be giving his all for United before joining us. We are in the business of bringing the best talent we can to the football club and he fits the bill," said Baxter.

Baxter is also keen to keep his championship winning squad together while speculation over the future of Gavin Whyte emerges, with Wolves keeping an eye on the winger.

"Any clubs interested in any of our players need to offer a fee," added Baxter. "Until that happens, nothing happens."

Belfast Telegraph


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