Belfast Telegraph

Derby cheer sets us up for big finish to season: Owens

Crusaders 2 Cliftonville 0

On target: Kyle Owens scored for Crues, as did his brother Jordan
On target: Kyle Owens scored for Crues, as did his brother Jordan

By Graham Luney

Just when you thought there was one goal machine in the Owens family, up steps Kyle to prove he can finish like Lionel Messi as well.

The Owens brothers, Jordan and Kyle, scored for Crusaders in the same game for the first time and Cliftonville paid a heavy price for letting them slip out of sight. Two first half goals settled an unusually low key north Belfast derby and Jordan Forsythe showed his class again with two sublime assists from free-kicks.

"We have been working on the set pieces in training so it's nice when they come off," said Kyle. "Thankfully it's me and the brother scoring for the team this time. I managed to lose my man and get the right touch on it.

"I think that's the first time we've both scored in a big game but I don't think Stephen (Baxter) will put me up front yet.

"I've a little catching up to do with Jordan on the goal front but it's great to be involved in a great side challenging for trophies.

"I think we've the best squad in the league and everyone wants to win trophies.

"We knew Cliftonville would put us under pressure but I thought the boys dug deep and we defended very well.

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"We defended their set pieces well and fair play to Cliftonville, they had a crack at it but we deserved the win. It's important for us to build up a bit of momentum for the Irish Cup semi-final against Coleraine and if that happens I'm sure people will make us favourites. With Ballymena losing we can target second place but Linfield are looking hard to catch. Our main priority is the Irish Cup and European football is a must with the squad we have but we're in good form."

Cliftonville, who had won four of their first five games under new boss Paddy McLaughlin, did attempt to implement their passing game but were unable to slice open the Crues defence.

As a former defender himself he will be disappointed with the two goals.

"The one disappointment is the two goals we conceded," he admitted. "Our general play and organisation was excellent. Our discipline was good as well but we didn't deal with the two crosses in the box and we'll work on that.

"We have changed the mindset of the players and got them feeling more positive. They are believing in themselves which they should do because they are all quality players.

"Crusaders are the league champions so it was pleasing to press them back so much in the second half."

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Coates, Ward, Cushley (Ronan Hale, 58 mins), Forsythe, K Owens, J Owens, Snoddy, Clarke (Thompson, 12 mins), Rory Hale. Unused subs: Doherty, McChrystal, Beverland, McGinley, Patterson.

Cliftonville: Brush, McGovern, Breen (Ives, 14 mins), Grace, C Curran, R Curran, R Donnelly, Bagnall (McConnell, 61 mins), Gormley, McMenamin (Garrett, 79 mins), Gorman. Unused subs: Neeson, A Donnelly, Rocks, Whiteway.

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown).

Man of the match: Jordan Forsythe

Match rating: 7/10.

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