Belfast Telegraph

This Coleraine team can achieve a lot together, says Eoin Bradley

Crusaders 1 Coleraine 2

By Graham Luney

The hairdryer must have been on full power in the home dressing room after this woeful display from Crusaders, but Coleraine were leaving north Belfast with a real spring in their step.

Joint top of the Danske Bank Premiership after conquering Dungannon Swifts, Cliftonville and Crusaders, just don't mention the words 'title contenders' to boss Oran Kearney, but this magnificent victory over Crusaders must keep morale and confidence high in the camp.

The Bannsiders were the more dangerous and hungry animal and that will be a major concern to Crues boss Stephen Baxter.

First-half goals from Eoin Bradley and Stephen O'Donnell did the damage but the visitors could have scored more and remained resolute after David Ogilby's 63rd-minute dismissal.

Crusaders were lacklustre and barely deserved the late consolation from Jordan Forsythe.

Bradley led from the front, scored the opener and he's excited by the progress the club is making. He said: "It's not an easy place to come but I felt we deserved the victory.

"We have three wins but we want to keep it going. It was tough, we could have scored more on the break but they are a hard team to play and our new boys have settled in well.

"Oran has done a great job in moulding the team and the boys are very fit. We trained hard and if you work hard for each other you can achieve a lot. That's my first goal and big Stephen O'Donnell is top scorer so we need to do something about that but it's a good place to be.

"We are looking solid. Dungannon, Cliftonville, Crusaders is a tough start and in two matches we were down to 10 men so it's been a battle. We are looking forward to the games coming thick and fast. We want to win home games and Warrenpoint won't fancy playing us. We have to keep working hard."

Boss Kearney now just wants a break after an intensive opening seven days which has brought the best out of his warriors.

"We needed strength all over the pitch and we had it," he beamed.

"We are three games in and I'm shattered. Our aim is very simple, we had a great season last season, we got to a Cup final and to Europe.

"Now we need a hunger and drive not to just settle for that. I need to see a real hunger and desire to be even better.

"I don't want to hear talk about it, I need to see it and in the three games I can't complain.

"When we have our strongest team on the pitch we are a match for anyone but Linfield and Crusaders have that strength in depth which helps over a season.

"We are making progress but are desperate to build. The Cup final was a brilliant experience apart from the result and we want to challenge for trophies."

Crues boss Baxter departed Seaview in a state of shock.

"The first goal was shambolic, missing a header at the back post, a nothing goal then a header for the second goal and there was a warning to that as we were under pressure receiving balls into the box," said Baxter.

"It was coming. The manner of our performance is what we are most annoyed about as you can only deal with yourself.

"We will think about it, reflect on it and while I'm frustrated we will build it up again. We have very good players but you must not lose your hunger as when that happens you are in trouble.

"We will see what the response is but the team will need to go up a few gears. If we lose 2-1 after playing well I'll say it was a good effort but we were lacklustre.

"We must bring more urgency and fight into our game.

"Players should be worried because if you lose your place in a top team you may not get it back for a while."

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