Belfast Telegraph

Baxter hails Caddell after Crues remain on title track

Glenavon 0 - Crusaders 1

By Billy Weir

Declan Caddell has found his shooting boots which is great news for him, Stephen Baxter and Northern Ireland Railways!

For the man responsible for keeping Crusaders' title train on track was given a bit of good-natured ribbing by his manager after the midfielder's timely arrival and finish in the 13th minute settled matters with Glenavon on Saturday.

"We work at it in training, work balls into the box and 24 of his shots in a row will generally end up with the ball on the railway!" said Baxter.

"That's generally what happens but today he pulls one down on his chest and buries it like I've never seen before, it was fantastic. But all joking aside he's a top, top player who gives everything for the shirt, works his socks off for the team, with the ground that he covers and his break-up play."

It was a performance that has typified much of the champions' season, an eighth 1-0 win in the Danske Bank Premiership campaign and having come through a run of Glentoran, Cliftonville and Glenavon unscathed there seems little chance of the run to the Gibson Cup being de-railed.

And when you consider they have achieved that without captain Colin Coates and are now without Michael Gault, the eyes raised when Howard Beverland swapped a guaranteed starting spot at Coleraine to have to fight his way into the champions' reckoning, have been well and truly lowered.

He simply oozed class on Saturday, whether alongside the ever-dependable Billy Joe Burns or the exceptional Alan Keane - and what a capture he will be when he is match fit - and Baxter was effusive in his praise for Beverland.

"He has been outstanding in his last number of games, his work rate, his desire, his positional sense, his determination to do well is just second to none," he said.

"Billy Joe Burns has been outstanding. Colin Coates has been out now maybe 10 or 11 Saturdays and BJ has slotted in and been excellent. Alan Keane has come in and he'll get better because his fitness levels are behind him, but he looks a class player."

Gary Hamilton's gripe was that his Glenavon side have to do better, although there was a brief glimpse of what might be more exciting times to come with a brief cameo display off the bench by their Brazilian import, Renato.

"We had a lot of set-plays in good areas but our delivery was very poor, and if you're going to play against Crusaders and the top teams your set-piece delivery has to be bang on the money like it was last week when Kyle Neill put in two corners and we got two goals from them," he explained.

"That's the difference, it's another tool that you have that you can use but unfortunately no matter who seemed to be taking them they weren't on the money or in the areas we needed them to be to attack them and maybe nick one.

"Renato came on and he looks sharp and he looks bright, has a bit of pace and I thought James Gray did well again, holding the ball up well and linking play, his movement in the first half was very good but he tired a bit in the second half."

GLENAVON: Tuffey, Canning, Marshall, Marron, Lindsay, Sykes, Kilmartin (Renato, 74 mins), Martyn, Moorhouse, Gray (Bates, 69 mins), Cooper (Patton, 60 mins). Unused subs: Hamilton, Elebert.

CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, McClean, Keane, Beverland, Forsythe, Heatley, Caddell (Suarez, 78 mins), Owens, Carvill, Cushley (Lowry, 69 mins). Unused subs: Mitchell, Dougherty, Clarke.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

Man of the match: Howard Beverland

Match rating: 6/10

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