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Baxter happy Crusaders are looking up while rival challengers both falter

Ards 0 Crusaders 1

Ruthless streak: Howard Beverland with Paul Heatley
Ruthless streak: Howard Beverland with Paul Heatley

By Keith Bailie

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter has reason to be cheerful.

On Saturday, his side recorded a slender 1-0 win over Ards in Bangor, while both Glenavon and Linfield dropped points, allowing the Crues to close the gap to seven points.

After a tough start to their title defence, Baxter is pleased that his team have not been cut adrift. Now all eyes are focused on Saturday's clash between Crusaders and league leaders Glenavon at Seaview.

"From our perspective, we are just trying to beat the team in front of us. We're not worrying about what is going on at other grounds on a Saturday.

"Of course, I'm glad that recent results have narrowed the league table. Everyone is still bunched up. While Glenavon and Linfield are still in the box seat, there's five maybe six teams who aren't too far away.

"Glenavon come to us next week and that will be a massive game. Glenavon will want to extend that lead, but we know that we have a great opportunity to close the gap."

On Saturday, Crusaders defeated Ards 1-0 thanks to a goal from Paul Heatley in the 63rd minutes. Baxter said, "The reality of the game is Ards didn't have any shots on target. Yes, they had a bit of pressure but they didn't penetrate us at any stage."

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The result saw Ards slip into the bottom two. Manager Colin Nixon said, "We're disappointed although I don't think luck has been on our side.

"Against Crusaders, we were without three defenders, we lost Sean Noble to a serious injury in August and now Jonny Frazer tells us he is moving to Australia.

"We have a massive game away to Newry City on Saturday, although I have to think about Tuesdays League Cup quarter-final with Ballymena United, first."

Ards will welcome back Callum Byers, Kyle Cherry, Michael Kerr and Johnny Taylor for tomorrow's cup clash in Bangor, which will kick-off at 7.45pm.

Ards: Johnston; J. Kelly, Elebert, McAleenan, McClean; Mitchell (69 E. McAllister), Tommons, Nelson (84 McLellan), D. McAllister, M. Kelly (76 Boyd), Frazer. Unused Subs: Mooney, McKenna, McLellan, Strain.

Crusaders: Doherty; Ward, Beverland, K. Owens, McCrystal; Carvill, Snoody (61 Forsythe), Caddell, Clarke (61 J. Owens); Heatley, Patterson (76 Glackin). Unused subs: O'Neill, Lowry, Cushley, Ruddy.

Referee: Jamie Robinson

Match Rating: 5/10.

Belfast Telegraph


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