Belfast Telegraph

'Big Chicken' hatching plan to derail Linflield's hopes

By Graham Luney

Jordan Owens has warned Linfield and other Danske Bank Premiership sides that Crusaders are capable of dishing out more heavy punishment. Cliftonville were put to the sword 4-0 at Solitude on Boxing Day with Owens, Howard Beverland, Gavin Whyte and Declan Caddell inflicting the damage.

It was an emphatic derby victory and a massive statement of intent in the title race as the Crues go for three league championships on the bounce.

Linfield are clinging to the coat-tails of Stephen Baxter's side but if they lose at Seaview tomorrow it looks like being a 'Happy Crue Year' with the Hatchetmen opening up a huge 10 points lead.

The Blues' history demands - at the very least - that the club should be challenging for league titles and supporters are thirsty for major silverware.

But the Crues aren't interested in Windsor Park headaches and they have a huge incentive to beat Linfield tomorrow and take a major stride towards a special title hat-trick.

Both sides have scored the same number of league goals (50) but after smashing in three against Glenavon and four in the derby, Crusaders feel they have rediscovered their ruthless streak and Owens says any side could be on the wrong end of a hammering.

"To go 10 points clear at the top is a huge incentive for the boys and the way we are playing we don't fear anyone and any side could be on the wrong end of a heavy defeat," said Owens who is third in the Premiership scoring charts with 12 goals.

"The boys are full of confidence and you never know how many goals we can score. On our home ground with a big crowd we thrive in that atmosphere and want to enjoy it."

Owens acknowledges the players will have bagged huge confidence from sweeping aside a team of Cliftonville's calibre.

"Beating Cliftonville 4-0 is a fantastic result because they have been on a long unbeaten run in the league and to score four goals and not concede was brilliant," he added.

"It was a huge test for us but it was an emphatic win and it could probably have been a bigger win.

"We had been winning games 1-0 and enjoyed a little luck as well but I always felt that we could hit a big score, it's just more surprising as it came against Cliftonville at Solitude.

"There was a spell when we were not playing great football but I thought it would come eventually and in the last few games we have started playing better and the mood is positive going into the big game against Linfield."

A home win would give the Crues a commanding 10 points lead at the summit but the man they call 'Big Chicken' isn't ready to count his chickens.

"Ten points would be a big lead but we could not start thinking that it's all over," he added.

"Even that lead could disappear in a few games and our attitude is one game at a time. There's a long way to go and nothing will be won soon. Big leads like 10 points and more have disappeared before so you could not take anything for granted."

Belfast Telegraph


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