Belfast Telegraph

Baxter hails brilliant Cushley as Crusaders win County Antrim Shield

 

Blowing hot: victorious Crusaders show off the Shield
Blowing hot: victorious Crusaders show off the Shield

By Steven Beacom

Crusaders hero David Cushley declared that their stunning 4-3 comeback victory over Linfield in last night's storm-blown County Antrim Shield final perfectly illustrated the never-say-die attitude at the north Belfast club.

Classy Cushley netted an injury time winner for the champions to decide last night's Seaview contest, which was made all the more entertaining by the Storm Gareth conditions with driving rain and a howling wind playing a key part.

With the elements in their favour, the Blues led 3-1 at the break through Mark Stafford, Kirk Millar and a Colin Coates own goal, with Cushley replying for the Crues.

Stephen Baxter's team took advantage of the wind in the second period, with Coates on target before the impressive Jordan Forsythe levelled on 88 minutes and then supplied the cross for Cushley to head home and seal the deal for the holders.

"We knew it would be difficult in the first half but even at 3-1 down at the break we felt we had a chance," said Cushley.

"I think we showed what Crusaders are all about with our comeback in the second half. We refused to give up and our determination proved crucial in the end.

"It was really special for me to get the winning goal but all the lads were brilliant."

After clinching the first trophy of the campaign for the Crues, manager Baxter added: "We kept going and I think got what we deserved in the end. I'm so pleased for the players, who put in a massive effort, and David Cushley once again showed his quality. He's a brilliant player for us."

Linfield manager David Healy was disappointed with how his side lost late on, pointing out the league leaders have to lift themselves now in their quest for the title.

"I would have loved to have won the County Antrim Shield and I'm really disappointed that we didn't, but for us the big one is the league and we have to re-focus and get back to winning ways and make sure we finish the season strongly," said Healy.

Belfast Telegraph

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