Glentoran 1-3 Crusaders: Crues finding their feet says Declan Caddell
Glentoran 1 Crusaders 3
Declan Caddell believes Crusaders are beginning to play with a swagger that comes after back-to-back title wins.
Although Stephen Baxter's boys were not at their best when they made the short trip across town to face Glentoran on Saturday, they were still a cut above their opponents.
Skipper Colin Coates shot the Crues ahead early on before young Jonathan Smith raised the hopes of the frustrated home fans by plundering an equaliser seconds before the break.
But normal service resumed in the second half and a quick-fire double from Jordan Owens and Caddell ensured the champs remained at the top of the table.
"We have got used to winning over the past few seasons," said Caddell.
"Regardless of how we are playing, we always want the three points. We were not at our best, but we have a great never-say-die attitude, we made sure we would win the game.
"Teams are setting up to stop us playing, they are camping in and making things difficult for us. But when you have guys like Paul Heatley, Gavin Whyte and big Jordan Owens, you have match winners.
"We had to be patient. We knew we would create four or five chances in the second half - and we knew we would have to put some of them away. Thankfully, we managed to score two of them.
"I don't know what it is, but we are winning matches without being at our best."
Caddell scored the goal of the match when he stormed forward to bullet home a great cross from Heatley.
He added: "It was a great ball in from Paul, I think it was the first time he passed the ball all day! I wish he would do it more often! Seriously, as soon as he got it, I made a run to the back post. I saw it the whole way.
"I got one a few weeks ago against Loughgall and was on the mark again, so I'm happy with that."
Crues boss Baxter believes the introduction of Michael Carvill helped ignite his team. He stated: "I felt we needed a little spark, I thought he was superb when he came on.
"We have come to expect so much of Heatley and Whyte. When they have under-par performances, which they had against the Glens, it shows that they are human.
"But I don't want to be labelled as a two or three-man team. I want a contribution from everyone - including the subs. I think we saw that."
Temporary Glens boss Roy Coyle offered no excuses, admitting his team gifted Crusaders their goals.
"Teams don't have to work to score against us," he said. "We are conceding in every game - goals that could be avoided - because we lack that bit of quality at the back. When we create chances at the other end, we don't have the cutting edge to put them away.
"We conceded a goal after only five minutes, because people didn't do the job they were detailed to do. There is not a lot managers can do about those things. We got back into it before half-time and you would have thought that would have given the players a lift, but it seemed to work the opposite way.
"The most concerning thing is the reaction when we concede goals. You can visibly see heads dropping, so that's something that has to be addressed very quickly."
GLENTORAN: D Nelson, McAuley, Magee (Addis, 20 mins), Birney, Harmon, Redman, Caldwell (Gordon, 75 mins) Lavery, Foley, Leu (Allen, 46 mins), Smith. Unused subs: Cafolla, Hamill.
CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Gault (Carvill, 62 mins), Coates, Caddell (Clarke, 90 mins), Forsythe, McClean, Owens (Mitchell, 83 mins), Heatley, Whyte. Unused subs: Lowry, Holden.
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)
Man of the match: Declan Caddell
Match rating: 7/10