Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Baxter hails Crusaders as Healy blasts Linfield performance

By Alex Mills

Beaming Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter hailed a huge win for his side in the Danske Bank Premiership title race last night. The Crues ended Linfield's unbeaten start to the Premiership season and replaced the champions in second place with a 2-1 win at Seaview, leaving Coleraine are three points clear at the top.

First-half goals from Jordan Forsythe and Paul Heatley had the visitors on the ropes and Mark Stafford's 71st minute reply counted for nothing.

"We have put on a great show here tonight," said Baxter.

"This was a wonderful advertisement for Irish League football. The two goals alone were worth the admission money. But we seen a great spectacle from both teams.

"The two teams went at it, they were like two heavyweight boxers. We dominated the first half, and Linfield came into it in the second half. But the goals we got were quality and we may have had a few more."

Baxter added: “We restricted Linfield to the long ball and they got in behind us for the one time and they made it count.

“Outside of that, they didn’t carve us open in any shape or form, so that was pleasing from our point of view. By the same token, it’s early doors in this league campaign. It’s only three points.

“These guys are the champions of our country, so for us to produce a performance like that, we have to be pleased. We’ll certainly not be getting carried away. Overall, I was pleased with the shape of the team.”

Linfield boss David Healy pulled no punches, stating that the performance, especially in the first half, just wasn’t acceptable.

He roared. “We were totally overrun. For us, it was a non-event — it was unacceptable. We lost the game in that first half.

“I was surprised how poor we were — from one to eleven. No, I’ll exclude Roy (Carroll). While Forsythe’s goal was a wonderful strike, from our point of view, it just wasn’t good enough.

“Crusaders are a good side. When you give people like Heatley opportunities he’ll punish you.”

Although the Blues gave it a go after the break, Healy admitted his boys had a mountain to climb.

He added: “It was always a long way back when we went two down. Fair play to the guys, they had a go in the second half.

“At the end of the day, we lost a game of football. We are only five or six games in, in terms of the league campaign, so we have a lot of time to make that up. Sometimes you lose games in special moments and the goals they got were two good strikes. But they were both preventable.

“Chris Casement slipped for the first one and our defence went walkies for the second. It surprised me because we have built our success on our defence.

“I want to see a reaction now on Saturday, which I know we’ll get when we face Ballinamallard United at Windsor Park.”

Belfast Telegraph

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