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Cliftonville 0-1 Crusaders: Baxter wants his boys to find ruthless streak

By Conor McLaughlin

Published 07/09/2015

Close call: Paul Heatley of Crusaders tees up a shot under the watchful eye of Cliftonville's Caoimhin Bonnar
Close call: Paul Heatley of Crusaders tees up a shot under the watchful eye of Cliftonville's Caoimhin Bonnar
Cliftonville's Peter Burke held off Crusaders with a series of impressive saves

You know that derby day has gone well when your only gripe is that you haven't won by more goals.

And that was precisely Stephen Baxter's attitude at Solitude on Saturday.

Crusaders dominated the opening 45 minutes of what was shaping up to be an annihilation of Cliftonville but had a single Jordan Owens strike to show for their considerable efforts as home keeper Peter Burke kept his team in the tie with a string of top-drawer saves.

The Republic of Ireland under-19 international (pictured), who was snapped up following his release by Sunderland this summer, made a flying stop to prevent Jordan Forsythe from notching an immediate follow-up to Owens' seventh-minute header and also got down to deny Colin Coates, Gavin Whyte and Paul Heatley as the champions threatened to ruin riot in the season's first north Belfast derby.

"Solitude is a tough place to come so any kind of win is a good one," said Baxter.

"Cliftonville have been unbeaten this season and we knew we would have to play well to get anything out of them, which is exactly what we did.

"Our first-half performance was stunning, we were camped in their half and they couldn't get out.

"Their goalkeeper has made some magnificent saves and, but for him, we would have been coming in at the break deservedly ahead by three or four goals.

"Cliftonville came back into things more in the second-half without doing too much in our box but, when there's only one goal in it, you're always wary of being caught - a little flick on, a stray touch, a deflection, anything could open you up - so if I have one complaint it's that we didn't win by a greater margin.

"We had the two best chances in the second-half with two breakaways and should probably have scored both of them but 1-0 is as good as 4-0, you still get three points and we'd have taken them in any shape or form before kick-off."

Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin said: "Our first-half performance was very flat and we just didn't get going.

"We were much better in the second-half, there was more intensity about us and we looked more likely to make something happen but just couldn't finish things off when we moved into dangerous areas.

"I'm pleased with how he reacted after half-time, but the first 45 minutes was nowhere near where we want to be, nowhere near it at all."

CLIFTONVILLE: Burke, Bonner, Flynn, Curran, McMullan, McDaid, M Donnelly, Seydak, Catney, Winchester, J Donnelly.

Subs: McGovern, Garrett (M Donnelly, 63 mins), Brennan, C Murray (McDaid, 63 mins), M Murray (Curran, 85 mins).

CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, Coates, McClean, Snoddy, Clarke, Mitchell, Forsythe, Owens, Heatley, Whyte.

Subs: McKibbin, O'Carroll (Whyte, 89 mins), Vauls, O'Flynn, McParland.



Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey)

League Cup holders Cliftonville will take on Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park in the third round next month.

The draw for the last-16 stage also sees Linfield at home to Ballinamallard while Crusaders host Institute. Warrenpoint travel to play Portadown.

JBE League Cup third round: Coleraine v H&W Welders; Glenavon/Annagh Utd v Ards; Dungannon Swifts v Cliftonville; Portadown v Warrenpoint Town; Crusaders v Institute; Limavady Utd v Ballymena Utd; Glentoran v Carrick Rangers; Linfield v Ballinamallard Utd. Ties to be played on Wednesday, October 14.

Belfast Telegraph

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