Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders boss Baxter: We'll do what is right for Whyte

Crusaders 3-0 Ballinamallard

By David Mason

Gavin Whyte walked away from Seaview clutching a bottle of champagne, reward for his man-of-the-match performance - but admitted "I don't even drink the stuff."

The 18-year-old produced a display of sheer class that helped take Stephen Baxter's Crusaders to the top of the Premiership table and one that is bound to have the cross-channel scouts flocking to the north Belfast venue.

Not only did he open the scoring, but Whyte then tortured a Ballinamallard United team that is now plunged deep into the relegation mire.

He then set up Jordan Owens' 18th goal of the season before Billy Joe Burns finished the job with a fine solo effort.

Little wonder Whyte was given a standing ovation as he was withdrawn in the final seconds.

"I'll give the bubbly to my mum, I don't drink it," quipped Whyte, who has already attracted interest from clubs across the water, including Wolves and Stoke City.

"They (the sponsors) asked me was I old enough to accept it, but I turn 19 at the end of this month. I enjoyed it out there. Before the game I wasn't 100 per cent because my hamstring felt a bit tight. I had to have a bit of treatment. I also had a massage at half-time. It did the job."

Whyte had goalkeeper Stefan McCusker to thank for his opener. The United shot stopper made a horrible mess of the winger's cross.

"I had a bit of luck," added Whyte. "I just concentrated in getting in a good cross and the ball seem to slip under the keeper. "That's my sixth of the season, which isn't bad I suppose. But I'm certainly aiming for more."

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter insists that interested clubs must put their money where there mouth is in terms of luring the talented winger.

"Every time a good player emerges, the obvious question is can he go across the water?" said Baxter. "He'll go when he is ready and if a club wants to take a chance and pay the money for him.

"This kid is an exceptional talent, but he has to continue to produce top rate displays on a consistent basis. If and when the scouts come to see him, they'll watch him over a six-game period or so.

"We'll not let him get too far ahead of himself. "I haven't received a telephone call from anyone stating 'we would like to buy this kid'. I've had few on requesting a trial. But I can say to any club, the answer is NO!

"If they want to see him, come and watch him."

Baxter, meanwhile, was thrilled with his team's latest contribution - one that meant they picked up full points over the Festive holiday period.

"We talked about making sure we didn't drop the levels we produced in the two big intense games against Cliftonville and Linfield. We had to make sure we were all fired up. We were really good. The team are purring at the moment."

United manager Whitey Anderson had no complaints, stating: "It was a bad day at the office."

CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, Coates, Robinson, McClean, Caddell, Clarke, Heatley, Whyte (O'Carroll 89), Adamson (Molloy 74), Owens (Owens 86). Substitutions: Molloy (Adamson, 74 mins), O'Flynn (Owens, 86 mins), O'Carroll (Whyte, 89 mins).

BALLINAMALLARD: McCusker, McMenamin, Stafford, Martin, Lafferty, Currie, McKenna, Beacom, Campbell, Courtney, McLaughlin. Substitutions: Hutchinson (McKenna, 46 mins), McCartney (McLaughlin, 46 mins), Foy (Currie, 79 mins).

Man of the match: Gavin Whyte (pictured)

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)

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