Baxters hails organised Ards after Crusaders draw a blank
Crusaders 0 Ards 0
Never mind a week being a long time in football, Crusaders have sampled all the emotions in just five days.
The 2-1 victory over Linfield at Seaview on Tuesday night suggested their title winning hunger was alive and kicking, but then Saturday's scoreless draw against Ards wiped the jubilant smiles off their faces.
Two magical strikes beat Blues keeper Roy Carroll in midweek but that firepower was nowhere to be seen against Ards and Colin Nixon's side left with a point their spirited resistance deserved.
Five points behind Coleraine and two behind champions Linfield, Crusaders are nowhere near panic mode but they will be aware that it will take a greater level of consistency to bring the Gibson Cup back to Seaview.
Ards' work ethic was as impressive as the Crues' approach play was poor, and while keeper Aaron Hogg frustrated Paul Heatley and Jordan Owens, the home side were struggling to find a creative spark.
"It was one of those days when we didn't do enough in front of goal," admitted Crues boss Stephen Baxter. "It's hard to know what effect the Linfield game had. It was long forgotten and we trained on Thursday so I don't think we should be looking for excuses. Sometimes you have to credit the opposition. They set up a good shape and put their bodies on the line."
Ards chief Colin Nixon said: "I could go through all the boys, to a man they were outstanding."
Crusaders: Jensen, Burns, Coates, Brown, Ward, Carvill (Whyte, 46 mins), Lowry (Snoddy, 63 mins), Forsythe (Cushley, 77 mins), Caddell, Heatley, Owens. Unused subs: Glackin, Beverland.
Ards: Hogg, Glendinning, Elebert, (McAleenan, 64 mins), Byers, Taylor, McMillen, Cherry, Hanley, McAllister (Keke, 81 mins), McLellan (Tommons, 74 mins), Frazer. Unused subs: McComb, Davidson.
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)