Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter shuffles pack for derby clash

By Keith Bailie

Crusaders will have to dust themselves down from Tuesday's shock League Cup exit at the hands of Championship club Bangor if they're to overcome old rivals Cliftonville in tomorrow's north Belfast derby at Seaview.

The Crues were 2-0 up at Clandeboye Road thanks to a Timmy Adamson double, but the striker then received a red card which allowed the Seasiders to come back and win the quarter-final 4-2.

As the game went to extra-time, there may well be a few tired Crusaders legs tomorrow.

"These are the hazards of Irish League football and it is just something we will have to deal with," said Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter.

"Fatigue is something which concerns me which is why I made several changes for the Bangor game. If you count Europe, we've already played over 20 competitive games and it's only mid-November.

"But it matters little. When we run out against Cliftonville there will be 11 players who will be fully prepared and they will give it everything they have.

"Win, lose or draw we will shake hands with everybody after the game and we will move on.

"When you see some of the other things that are going on in the world today it's important to remember that it's not life or death, it's a game of football.

"We're all very passionate about it and we all want to win, but it is what it is. I don't lose too much sleep over it."

The Crues lost 1-0 to Cliftonville at Seaview last month thanks to a second half strike from Joe Gormley.

Since then the Reds have stormed to the top of the table, claiming victories over the likes of Linfield and Portadown.

The Crues have also performed well and now find themselves in fourth place, four points behind the champions.

Baxter believes tomorrow's derby will be even more difficult without the suspended Adamson.

"Cliftonville are on a great run and they've got many great players. We're going to have to rise to the occasion and play to the best of our ability," Baxter explained.

"In the last game against the Reds we played well and I thought we deserved to win the game but they came away with the points.

"This will be a different game because they've kicked on since then and gone on a fantastic run. This is when injuries and suspensions start to hurt you.

"Big Tim had worked his way back into the team and was starting to do very well and now he's put himself out of this game. He will probably also get a further two-game ban on top of his automatic suspension.

"When you raise your foot like that when you're on a yellow card then you're always going to be in trouble. We warned him about it," Baxter added.

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