Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders' true character must shine through against Coleraine, says Baxter

Crusaders v Coleraine; Bet McLean League Cup; 7.45pm

By Graham Luney

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter is keeping the faith despite some below par performances which have seen his side fall eight points behind leaders Coleraine in the Danske Bank Premiership.

The Bannsiders will arrive at Seaview tonight for a Bet McLean League Cup clash (7.45pm) where they will face a Crues side still licking their wounds after Saturday's disappointing 3-2 loss to Glenavon.

The Shore Road venue was once considered a fortress, but that title is in danger of being blown away with Oran Kearney's side winning 2-1 there in August while Ards and Dungannon Swifts also left with a point.

A 2-1 victory at home to Linfield was the highlight of their campaign so far but the Hatchetmen have not been consistent enough to challenge at the top of the table and Coleraine will look to dent their confidence further this evening.

Baxter, however, is hoping his players' character will shine through.

"When you get a little setback your true character needs to come out to put it right," said the Crues boss. "I know the quality of the players and how hard they work. I know the knocks they take to push themselves to play and I have so much belief in them it's untrue. When they dip a little below it I will push them harder to keep at it. There's a long way to go in the league with over 80 points still to play for.

"If you don't go out with the right attitude, desire and hunger you will be punished, particularly against a side like Coleraine who are playing on the front foot and working hard as a unit. We need to find that rhythm we had two years ago when we pushed for the title. You need that drive and intensity in your game.

"Sometimes we need to stop beating ourselves up about it, we need to chill out. Coleraine have got that in abundance and we have to be wary of them while using our squad wisely.

"There will be one or two changes and I'm sure Coleraine will feel the same."

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