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Crusaders must get their swagger back, says Baxter

 

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Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter

Stephen Baxter

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter has urged his boys to rediscover their swagger against basement side Institute at Seaview today.

The Shore Road team haven't won in five games - a run of results that has left their Danske Bank Premiership hopes hanging by a thread as they are 10 points adrift of table-topping Linfield, with only eight games remaining.

They picked up their first point from a possible nine with a drab midweek scoreless draw against Cliftonville, but Baxter insists their performance suggested they are on their way back.

"At this stage of the season, we just have to play the game in front of us," he said. "We have three matches remaining before the top six clubs break away.

"There is no pressure on us, we are just going out to play a football match, we want to enjoy them.

"We want to see if we can get a bit of swagger back into our game and see where it takes us. We were much more like ourselves against Cliftonville. It was a strong performance which I was pleased with.

"I thought we played really well and created four or five great chances on the night. Their goalkeeper (Richard Brush) made a few smart saves."

Baxter, however, insists he'll be taking nothing for granted when Institute come to town - a team in dire need of points to haul them off the bottom of the table.

"At this stage of the season they are all must-win games," he added. "There is no point in beating ourselves up over what has happened over the past few weeks.

"We will have the lads well prepared, regardless of who they are coming up against - we'll be giving it our best shot.

"The last time Institute were at Seaview in the league they got a draw, so they are not a team to be underestimated.

"They have vast experience in their coaching staff. I have a lot of respect for Sean (Connor), so I know they'll be coming to Seaview well drilled and well prepared.

"They are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, but we never underestimate any side.

"Look what Watford did to Liverpool last week. Who would ever have believed that?

"So, make no mistake about it, this will be as tough a game, similar to any of the top sides," he warned.

Even though Baxter picked up the manager of the month award in January, his team experienced their worst run of the season over the following four weeks.

"Don't be giving me any more of those (monthly) awards," he quipped.

"We had a fantastic January, when we didn't even concede one goal, then last month everything turned on its head.

"Some of the games just got away from us."

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