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Wing wizard Gavin Whyte warns Crusaders have yet to hit form

Crusaders 3 Dungannon Swifts 1

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 12/09/2016

Composed: Gavin Whyte scores Crusaders’ equaliser from the penalty spot
Composed: Gavin Whyte scores Crusaders’ equaliser from the penalty spot

Gavin Whyte believes Crusaders have yet to hit top form this season.

The champions are setting the pace once again in the Danske Bank Premiership and hold a four-point lead at the top.

At the weekend they came from behind to beat Dungannon, with Whyte delivering a standout display in the 3-1 win.

But, in an ominous warning to the chasing pack, the gifted midfielder insists there is room for improvement.

"I still don't think we've reached our full potential yet and there is still more to come," he said.

"You see the players on the bench today - they still have a lot to give. We are playing well but we need to keep it going and keep working hard."

Whyte's 32nd minute penalty got Crusaders back on track after they had fallen behind to Seanan Clucas's opener.

In an impressive display, Whyte went close in the second half with a surging run and shot which came back off the crossbar.

The points were, however, eventually secured by two Paul Heatley strikes - the first coming in the 78th minute when he finished off a cross from Billy-Joe Burns before a terrific first-time strike near the end.

As well as his goal, Whyte - who is part of the Northern Ireland under-21 squad - also collected the man of the match award and added he has been pleased with his start to the new campaign.

"It is just down to working hard in training and working hard in my own spare time," he said. "Probably going away with the Northern Ireland squad helped me and getting to train every day."

The Crues have now won five of their opening seven league games and boss Stephen Baxter felt this was their best performance to date.

"We were brilliant today and I was really pleased with that performance," he said.

"The only criticism is that we haven't come out with five, six or seven goals, because that is what our performance deserved."

This result brought an end to Dungannon's five-match unbeaten run, with head coach Rodney McAree reflecting:"We passed the ball very well in the first half, we were patient and we didn't give it away cheaply," he said.

"If you give it away cheaply against Crusaders you put yourself under pressure, because they play it forward very quickly.

"We didn't keep the ball well enough in the second half."

CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Coates, McClean, Caddell (Carvill, 90 mins), Gault, Whyte, Heatley, Lowry (Forsythe, 63 mins), Owens. Unused subs: Mitchell, Holden, Clarke

DUNGANNON: Coleman, Lowe (Burke, 53 mins), Hegarty, Armstrong, Wilson (Fitzpatrick, 87 mins), Clucas, Harpur, Hazley, Glackin, McElroy (Teggart, 68 mins), Mitchell. Unused subs: Addis, McCashin

Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey)

Man of the match: Gavin Whyte

Match rating: 6/10

Belfast Telegraph

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