We must box clever to stay on track, warns Caddell
Crusaders 3 Glenavon 1
Declan Caddell has admitted it's "make or break time" for the Premiership clubs with a desire to win silverware this season.
Titles may not be won over the Christmas period but there is a chance they can be lost.
Linfield and Cliftonville are snapping away at the champions' heels and the Crues know they cannot take their foot off the gas.
With Stephen Baxter's side heading to Solitude next for the Boxing Day derby with Cliftonville, the Hatchetmen will need all their hunger and desire to stay ahead of the chasing pack.
Caddell, who opened the scoring in the 3-1 home win over Glenavon which keeps his side five points ahead of the Blues, said: "Linfield and Cliftonville are both playing great football and chasing us, we just have to look after ourselves and make sure we keep winning.
"It's a crucial period which can make or break your season. All the teams want to win and we want to open the gap further.
"It's an important time but Cliftonville will be tough to beat as they gave us a lesson at Seaview before switching off.
"We know what to expect, they are a good footballing side capable of scoring goals and not giving them a three goal start would help.
"It's always a big day for players, management and supporters so we will go up the road and try to win the game.
"You can't rule the Reds out of the title race.
"They won the championship twice and are starting to play that way again under Gerard Lyttle. It will be a tough derby game but we will look forward it."
Caddell's sixth minute opener threatened to open the floodgates but Lurgan Blues stopper Jonny Tuffey was in inspired form, pulling off one astonishing save in particular to deny Paul Heatley.
Mark Patton levelled just after the restart but goals from Gavin Whyte (58 minutes) and Jordan Owens (81) sealed the victory.
The visitors felt they should had a penalty when Billy Joe Burns made contact with Greg Moorehouse but referee Keith Kennedy took a different view and brandished a yellow card for diving. Caddell added: "I think we are playing better.
"In the last few weeks we have lifted our performance level and are starting to look like the team we have been in the last few years.
"We are controlling games better and I think we could have scored 10 here. I got a goal against Glentoran at the start of the season but then an injury kept me out. It's great to be back scoring but we had several man of the match contenders."
Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Gault, McClean, Caddell, Forsythe (Lowry, 89 mins), Cushley (Clarke, 84 mins), Owens, Heatley, Whyte. Unused subs: Mitchell, Carvill, Dougherty.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Neill (Cooper, 66 mins), Lindsay, Marshall, Hall (McGrory, 81 mins), Patton, Sykes, Moorhouse (Bradley, 76 mins), Elebert, Singleton, Bates. Unused subs: Marron, O'Brien.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)