Belfast Telegraph

Crues stocking up on firepower all over the pitch, says boss Baxter

Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter

By Graham Luney

Stephen Baxter has warned Institute his Crusaders goalscoring machine is in fine working order.

The Crues manager has just added Paul McElroy to his attacking options, giving the Danske Bank Premiership leaders even more formidable firepower.

Last weekend's 3-0 win at home to Dungannon Swifts leaves the north Belfast side three points clear of Cliftonville and Kris Lindsay's men with 14 goals scored in five matches.

And it's not just the strikers that pose a goal threat at Seaview with the defenders and midfielders having an eye for goal.

"It's the one thing you need when the matches are very tight, you need players who can score big goals," said Baxter ahead of this afternoon's trip to Institute.

"You can have a big derby game or a clash against Linfield and maybe Colin Coates is the man who gets a winner. You need goals in all areas of the pitch as we cannot rely on Jordan Owens and Paul Heatley to provide the goals for us all the time.

"It's good to see the goals going around the team and Billy Joe Burns' goal against the Swifts was a prime example. He had to adjust his body and get his knee over his body to drill the ball into the bottom corner, it was a fabulous finish.

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"But it's early days and we won't get too carried away. We aren't jumping through hoops but we do have good options.

"Rory Patterson and Ronan Hale left, then Jordan picked up an injury so that left us with no strikers on the bench.

"We needed a few more in to bolster our options, otherwise with a few knocks you end up with no strikers.

"I'm pleased Paul McElroy has arrived and it's been a good month for the football club."

Baxter was thrilled to see midfielder Philip Lowry maintain his sparkling form but he was even more pleased with the collective effort.

"Philip has had a number of injuries here but he has had a great pre-season and quality is quality," he said.

"You just need to give players like Philip the right environment to thrive in.

"Other players have had a brilliant pre-season and they have been outstanding in their preparation. Goalscorers catch the eye a little bit, Paul Heatley and Ross Clarke are among the players on fire at the moment.

"There's been a good camaraderie from the Wolves trip and the players are enjoying their football."

Belfast Telegraph


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