Belfast Telegraph

Successive awards put Baxter on cloud nine

By Gordon Hanna

Stephen Baxter picked up back-to-back BT Sport Manager of the Month awards yesterday and recalled how his managerial career began – as a favour to Crusaders.

Nine years ago he answered a plea from the then Cinderella club never thinking he would still be in charge all this time later.

He said: "I was only asked if I would take over for the last nine matches of the season.

"I agreed and I'm still there and enjoying every minute."

It is Baxter's 11th award in total and he said: "It is a very great privilege and honour."

Baxter's latest award comes on the back of what was a memorable month for the Crues as the Shore Road men surged to the top of the table.

They beat Portadown 1-0 at Shamrock Park, drew 2-2 with Glenavon at Mourneview Park, hammered Coleraine 4-0 at Seaview and whipped Ards 4-1 at Clandeboye Road.

On top of all that Baxter's boys outgunned then table toppers Linfield in a marathon 10-9 penalty shoot-out to reach the semi-finals of the League Cup.

So what next? Baxter said: "Ideally I'd like us to push on and win the title but that won't be easy.

"We are where we want to be at this stage. Consistency is the secret," he stated.

"The key to that is keeping the players fit and free from suspension and winning games."

Baxter admitted that he would love to see Portadown ace Kevin Braniff arriving in next month's transfer window.

He added: "He's a great player but let's face it, he won't be coming because he's way, way out of our reach."

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