Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders are only a 'smidgeon off' the pace ahead of Irish Cup final, maintains Baxter

 

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter.
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter.

By Alex Mills

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter admits he has no intention of pressing the panic button even though his team haven't won for over a month.

The dethroned Danske Bank Premiership champions bring the curtain down on their league campaign tomorrow at the Showgrounds against a jubilant Ballymena United.

The Crues have a chance to put all the negativity behind them in next week's Irish Cup final against Ballinamallard United - victory would mean they avoid the end-of-season play-offs to punch their ticket to Europe.

Although results have been poor, Baxter was keen to keep things in perspective.

"I'm always disappointed when we draw or lose - it never pleases me," he stated. "Sometimes I have to go away and bring these things into context.

"I have to look at the grand scheme of things and ultimately there have been a few performances that haven't been too bad. I thought we were excellent against Glenavon at Mourneview Park, but left with nothing, and our performance against Linfield at Windsor was excellent.

"The disappointment has come from our first-half showing against Cliftonville and first-half display against Coleraine in midweek. Results across the four games are not what we wanted, but the bigger picture would suggest to me that we are a smidgeon off where we should be.

"There were no high stakes to play for as in previous campaigns. It was a difficult scenario because we also have the Irish Cup final around the corner. We are resting one or two and trying to protect as many as we can."

• Bangor have taken another step up the domestic football ladder by gaining promotion to the Premier Intermediate League.

The Seasiders defeated St James Swifts 3-1 last night to clinch the Ballymena and Provincial Intermediate League title.

Goals from Gerard McMullan, Ben Arthurs and Thomas Wray kicked off the celebrations.

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