Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders not prepared to go down without a fight: Beverland

By Graham Luney

Crusaders defender Howard Beverland is frustrated that his side are left playing for pride in the Europa League but he still believes they can hurt Olimpija Ljubljana at Seaview on Thursday night.

A 5-1 win for the Slovenian champions looks to have killed the tie, denying Stephen Baxter's men a cherished place in the third qualifying round.

The scoreline took on a flattering look for the hosts as Crusaders had chances to bolster their goal tally, but there's no doubt Ljubljana are a formidable force.

After losing the opening leg of their Champions League tie 7-0 to Ludogorets, the Hatchetmen have conceded 12 goals in two games on their European travels, but the harsh lessons learned should see them emerge stronger.

Beverland is disappointed the tie has lost much of its competitive edge but he still wants to stun the Slovenians at Seaview.

"We can score goals against them," said the former Coleraine ace. "They scored five but we didn't take the best chance of the game.

"At 3-1 the tie was alive, but we are playing for pride now and that's disappointing. We were in a similar position in the Champions League game and, while we got a goal and created chances, it's frustrating not to be in a position where you feel you can get into the next round, but we will give it our best and aim to perform well.

"They weren't Ludogorets but they are still top-class opposition. We are disappointed because there was great belief we could have got a positive result and made the second leg competitive.

"Unfortunately we conceded just after scoring and the fifth goal late on was disappointing.

"The scoreline didn't entirely reflect the game. Had we scored it could have been a very different game."

Meanwhile, Crusaders' transfer target Jamie McGonigle featured for the Bannsiders and scored last night in the Wes Gregg Memorial match against Portstewart.

A number of triallists also played in the game.

Coleraine rejected the Crues' opening bid for the player.

Belfast Telegraph

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