Belfast Telegraph

A fantastic milestone for Baxter but game 701 is a tough one

Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter

By Billy Weir

And talking of managers, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the remarkable achievement of Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter in notching up his 700th game in charge.

The footballing landscape has changed beyond recognition since he came in to give the Seaview side a hand out back in 2005 and now, some 14 years on, he finds himself as full-time boss of a club that is unrecognisable from all those years ago.

His 409th victory came at Newry City on Friday night and while Baxter, who was awarded a B.E.M. in the New Year Honours, was proud to have reached the landmark figure, his pleasure and mindset was summed up with one simple sentence - 'It was all about a result.'

And that will be same for match 701 this Saturday, probably one of the most important he will have faced in his tenure, as Linfield come to north Belfast for a crucial title clash.

Ballymena United may be the filling in the sandwich between the two perennial challengers at the moment, but whoever comes out on top of this one will, you would think, have struck a major blow in the race for the Gibson Cup.

The Blues are three points ahead with a game in hand over the Crues, so have a little more breathing space, but Baxter's men will still be smarting from their 4-1 spanking earlier in the season.

"All the games against Linfield are big and, to be honest, our last outing against them was hopeless and they beat us quite easily," he said.

"Although we lost that game at Windsor 4-1, that really doesn't come into play next week."

Hmmm, not so sure about that one, he'll have them kicking down the door to get at them for win 410. It should be a real cracker.

Belfast Telegraph

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