Belfast Telegraph

Defence is king for free-scoring Crusaders says Baxter

Dungannon Swifts 0-4 Crusaders

By Adrian Rutherford

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter hailed a fine team performance after they eased to a comprehensive 4-0 victory at Dungannon Swifts.

Gavin Whyte scored twice, while Rodney Brown and David Cushley were also among the goals in a one-sided clash.

It was the Crues' ninth straight win in all competitions. In their last seven Premiership games, they've netted 27 goals. At the other end, Crusaders have conceded only twice in their last four outings and their stout defensive nature is giving the boss just as much joy as his free-scoring forwards.

Baxter said: "This is always a difficult place to come in my book, so when you win as well as we have, you have to be very pleased. We've scored four goals and created three or four more chances. The form is good, we're playing well, but what pleases me most is the clean sheet, plus the four goals."

The result was tough on a Dungannon side ravaged by injury, with up to six first-team players out.

They were quickly on the back foot as Crusaders raced into a two-goal lead.

The first came after 17 minutes following a corner forced by Paul Heatley. Jamie Glackin's delivery picked out Brown, whose header struck the back post and ricocheted into the net.

Number two came in the 29th minute from the spot.

Ryan Harpur was adjudged to have blocked a cross from Brown with his arm, resulting in a penalty, which was taken by Whyte.

Goalkeeper Stuart Addis guessed correctly but Whyte's kick had just enough power and squirmed past him.

Dungannon's best chance of the first half had fallen to Johnny Lafferty, who met a cross from Kris Lowe but directed his header over.

The game briefly threatened to turn nasty in the second half when players from both sides were involved in a minor scuffle, sparked by a strong challenge from Harpur, who had just been booked, on Brown.

Referee Raymond Crangle didn't give the foul, but did show a yellow to Jordan Forsythe seconds later for a tackle on Harpur.

That aside, the second half was a story of continued Crusaders dominance.

Billy-Joe Burns's shot through a crowded box was tipped wide by Addis while Glackin sent an effort just past the back post.

Crusaders added number three in the 81st minute.

Whyte picked up the ball outside the box before crashing home a terrific left-foot effort.

In stoppage time Cushley made it four, lifting the ball over a defender before sending a low shot into the bottom corner.

DUNGANNON: Addis, Lowe, McCaffrey, Clucas, O'Rourke, Wilson, Harpur, McMahon (Lockhart, 61 mins), Burke, Mayse (Hutchinson, 61 mins), Lafferty (Ferris, 70 mins). Subs not used: Fitzpatrick, Teggart

CRUSADERS: Jensen, Burns, Beverland, Coates, Brown (McClean, 87 mins), Caddell, Forsythe (Cushley, 85 mins), Glackin, Heatley, Whyte (Ward, 85 mins), Owens. Subs not used: Kerr, Nimick

Man of the Match: Gavin Whyte

Match rating: 6/10

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

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