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Fresh face Alan Keane will play key role in Crusaders' race to net the big prizes: Stephen Baxter

Crusaders 2 Ards 0

By Graham Luney

Stephen Baxter believes his new signing Alan Keane will help Crusaders get across the line in the race for major honours this season.

The Crues are going for a third consecutive league title and at the weekend they booked a sixth round Irish Cup meeting at home to PSNI after conquering a spirited Ards side.

Defender Keane has joined from Dundalk in a six-month deal and Baxter says he's thrilled with his January purchase.

"Alan Keane played for Sligo Rovers against us and I have never seen better," said Baxter.

"He's a wonderful athlete and top player.

"We were very envious of Sligo's squad at that time but we managed to beat them somehow.

"Alan's a superb player and at 32 years old he has vast experience.

"He's as fit as a flea, knows the game and is a strong boy.

"He will give us that extra that we need given the number of matches we have in the next four months.

"It's an important signing with the injuries we have.

"It's been four days of hard work and a big phone bill to get him in but we're delighted."

An Emmet Friars own goal on 20 minutes and classy finish from Michael Carvill nine minutes before the break was sufficient to floor the north Down men at Seaview but if second half substitute Gary Liggett had struck the crossbar one more time he would have been entitled to take it home.

"We were good on the break with Gavin Whyte showing some quality attacking play but there wasn't enough of that," added Baxter.

"Ards did the right thing and charged forward when they were 2-0 down in a cup tie and they put good deliveries in but you just want to progress to the next round and we're delighted."

Baxter picked out centre back Howard Beverland as his man of the match in the Cup victory.

The former Coleraine skipper has oozed class since arriving on the Shore Road.

"Howard was really good, winning plenty of headers, and was solid as a rock," he added.

"I thought he was really good, my man of the match.

"We always knew we would get that from him.

"It's the reason we trailed him for two years in the hope he would come in our direction and we worked hard to get him."

Ards boss Colin Nixon admitted his side were architects of their own downfall by gifting the Crues a healthy first half lead.

"The individual errors are a legacy of the season," said the former Glentoran favourite.

"Most of the goals seem to be mistakes and we just have to work hard to eradicate that.

"No one wants to make mistakes but everyone does. Unfortunately we are being punished with goals being scored against us. We have to keep working hard - I won't change our style of play, we will get the ball down, pass it and be an attacking threat but we must stop conceding silly goals."

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