Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders must make quick turnaround or get left behind in title race, warns Philip Lowry

Crusaders 1 Institute 1

Philip Lowry says his Crusaders side can't afford more trips in the coming weeks.
Philip Lowry says his Crusaders side can't afford more trips in the coming weeks.

By Graham Luney

Crusaders midfielder Philip Lowry has admitted his side must rediscover their ruthless touch swiftly or face being also-rans in the title race.

The 1-1 draw at home to Institute means it's now one defeat and three draws in their last four league outings - hardly championship-winning form.

Without Paul Heatley and Rory Hale, they created little magic in the final third.

The frustration at the end was significant but supporters were still shocked to see Crues boss Stephen Baxter confront a supporter in the stand after the game. Baxter declined to comment on the matter but he will have plenty to say to his players after an underwhelming display.

Jamie McGonigle rifled in the equaliser after Colm McLaughlin's 38th-minute opener and it could have been even worse for the Crues as McLaughlin failed to take a good chance in added time.

"That's football, when you miss chances that can haunt you," admitted former Stute favourite Lowry. "They set up to defend and we were just too predictable and didn't do enough.

"They deserved a point and it suits them to sit deep and get the ball to the front two.

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"We started like a house on fire and things were looking rosy after beating Linfield but we have been stuttering and three draws and a defeat is poor form, we need to turn it around quickly because the top teams won't slip up against the bottom six.

"We've Larne next and we seem to be up for the big games but this performance is disappointing."

CRUSADERS: Doherty, Burns, Beverland, Lowry, McGonigle, Caddell (McElroy, 46 mins), O'Rourke, K Owens, J Owens, Thompson, Clarke (Cushley, 71 mins). Unused subs: O'Neill, Coates, Ruddy, Robinson, McGinley.

Institute: Brown, Morrow, McLaughlin, Curry, Grace (Leppard, 82 mins), Tourish, Brown (McIntyre, 76 mins), McCready, McCauley, Crown, Bradley. Unused subs: Wells, Dunne, Scotlock, McNamee, McGurk.

Referee: Jamie Robinson (Belfast)

Man of the Match: Rory Brown

Match Rating: 6/10

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