Donegal Celtic 2 Crusaders 5
Donegal Celtic players gathered yesterday for a Poker Drive in aid of funding the cost of new training gear — but, following Saturday’s crushing home defeat to Crusaders, some of Pat McAllister’s players are never likely to wear it.
It was Timmy Adamson who bagged an impressive hat-trick, and title-contending Crusaders who played their cards right at Celtic Park.
As far as fuming Celtic boss McAllister was concerned, a number of his boys had already declared their hand.
Adamson’s treble, a stunner from Gareth McKeown and an opener from Paul Heatley, shoved Celtic to the foot of the Premiership once again and moved the Crues to within four points of league leaders Cliftonville.
The humbled hosts had dragged themselves back into the game after Heatley gave the visitors the lead — Sean Cleary drilling a long-range shot past Sean O'Neill just before the break.
That should have been enough to revive Celtic but, instead, the second half saw them collapse.
McAllister said: “I fully expect two or three players to leave the club this week.
“The rest of them have four weeks to prove themselves. I need more new faces in than I thought at the start. I've told the players that I just can't watch it any longer.
“We played maybe for 10 minutes the whole game. The second-half performance was as bad as I've seen in 25 years of football. It was embarrassing to watch.
“Crusaders were ruthless but if you don't compete at this level, then you don't have a chance.”
McAllister’s much happier opposite, Stephen Baxter, said: “We didn’t get the goals we should have in the first half and we were maybe a bit sloppy with the final ball.
“I was disappointed with 1-1 at half-time but I said to the boys to keep doing what they were doing.
“We were stunning in the second half when we got the right delivery in. We got five but maybe could have run away with another two or three goals.”
Two teams that not so long ago shared the same ambition in the Championship – are now worlds apart in the Premiership. Crusaders’ deck is flush but it may be a case of top-flight ‘Fold ’em’ before McAllister can get active in January’s transfer market.