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Coates insists Crusaders well set for victory in Taillinn

By Keith Bailie

Crusaders captain Colin Coates believes his team-mates are capable of defeating Levadia Tallinn in his absence. On Tuesday night, the Irish League champions drew 0-0 with the Estonia side at a packed Seaview in the first leg of their Uefa Champions League qualifier.

If the Crues are to qualify for the second stage, they will have to do it without their inspirational leader Coates, who is on a family holiday. Despite his absence, he believes he has seen enough to say that Crusaders can win in Estonia.

Coates said: "I think if we can go over there and score first then it will be panic stations for them.

"We're certainly in the tie. We saw nothing in the first leg to put the fear into us. We're not going to go there and get turned over five or six.

"We've a real chance but we have to prepare right this week."

Despite the absence of goals, the first leg was an entertaining affair, played in front of almost 2,000 spectators at a sun-drenched Seaview. Crusaders had a number of chances to win the game, including a marvellous first-half volley from new boy Andy Mitchell.

Coates believes the Crues deserved a victory.

"When you think about it, Sean (O'Neill, goalkeeper) didn't really have a lot to do. We controlled the game," he said. "You could argue that maybe we could have went for it a little more but if we pushed forward then we ran the risk of conceding the away goal.

"As the game went on we got a little leggy, which I think is understandable when you consider the heat and the fact this is our first competitive game of the season.

"But the clean sheet is as good as anything. If we can score a goal out there then it will set us up nicely."

Defensively, Coates and Joshua Robinson kept a Levadia forward line that included Estonia international Ingermar Teevar at bay. Coates was not overly impressed by the Estonians' attack.

"We watched a few videos. Myself and big Josh handled it pretty well. The big striker tries to peel off and get onto the end of a diagonal, which is what we prepared for," he said.

"They brought on a pacey forward in the second half but I think we handled it well."

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