Belfast Telegraph

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Crusaders have built proud derby record over Cliftonville on grit and desire: Baxter


By Conor McLaughlin

Stephen Baxter praised his players' winning mentality after Crusaders battled from behind to extend their superb north Belfast derby record on Monday night.

Trailing 2-1 to Cliftonville with five minutes left on the clock at Solitude, the Crues celebrated a late Paul Heatley double that not only sent them through to the semi-finals of the County Antrim Shield, but also preserved a remarkable sequence of results against their local rivals.

Not since October 4, 2014 have the Reds got the better of the Crues, who have won 11 of the 12 meetings between the sides in that time - a statistic Baxter was proud to boost this week.

"These are tough games and the record we have against Cliftonville doesn't just happen from nowhere, the players work tremendously hard," he said.

"They're not easy games to win, you don't get things comfortable in derby matches like this and it's very often only a single goal that decides it.

"Cliftonville haven't beaten us in three years, so they're itching to try and beat us and we always have to be up to that level to keep going and going again without taking anything for granted.

"You have to work as hard as them, play as hard as them, fight as hard as them and hope you get it.

"We've just had that wee bit of something about us in the last three or four years and they're struggling to cope with us - and long may it continue."

In addition to their derby form, the Crues boss was thrilled that, following a recent wobble, his side have found their groove again, with Monday's success making it four wins on the spin in all competitions - albeit at a cost, with Michael Carvill pulling a hamstring and Philip Lowry suffering a broken arm at Solitude.

"We've lost a couple of players and that's disappointing but what was pleasing was that we were able to bring players on to perform in the game and we've showed the depth of the squad we have," he added.

"Everybody has been working very hard and our results in the last few weeks are evidence of that."

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