Belfast Telegraph

'Determined' Crusaders will stay focused to ward off another title stumble, says Sean

Crusaders 4-2 Glentoran

Staying focused: Crusaders defender Sean Ward
Staying focused: Crusaders defender Sean Ward

By Graham Luney

Crusaders defender Sean Ward says it's a joy to be part of a "very determined dressing room" at Seaview but he knows there are several huge hurdles to clear before a title victory is within reach.

The Premiership leaders now boasts a five points lead over Coleraine in the championship race but after the Shore Road side's collapse at the end of last season there will be no one counting chickens in this part of north Belfast.

A year ago former Glentoran ace Ward was helping Linfield stage a miraculous fightback to clinch the title but now he can sense a steely determination at the Crues. Glentoran took an early lead at Seaview through Alex O'Hanlon's fine finish - his first for the club - but after that it was one way traffic as the title chasers flexed their muscles.

Jordan Owens scored one and could have netted many more while Billy Joe Burns, Colin Coates and the superb Gavin Whyte also found the net.

Substitute Robbie McDaid made the scoreline slightly more respectable for the visitors in injury time but there was no disguising the home side's dominance.

"We are five points clear in the league but it means little at the moment," said Ward. "It's a very determined dressing room and I feel the pain the boys went through last year. I was on the other side of the fence at Linfield and I was chasing and hunting down.

"No one thought Crusaders would lose it so you don't take anything for granted, especially when we have extremely tough games ahead of us. Coleraine will bounce back and finish strongly so it's important we stay focused on ourselves and our performances. It was very disappointing to lose the Irish Cup and League Cup games.

"We want to win every competition we enter but it's not as easy as people think it is. People talked about the clean sweep and it wasn't a distraction but it's not easy to be at the top of your game all the time."

Several Crusaders players caught the eye, so much so that it seems cruel to single out anyone for special praise, but Gavin Whyte's stunning run and assist for Burns' goal was yet another reminder the 22-year-old is simply too good for this league.

"People pay in to watch Gavin Whyte because he's that good," added Ward. "We can all see he deserves to play at a higher level and we are aware of his quality.

"He's a humble guy who works hard and fans love to watch him. He's probably been the best player in the league but we have so many good players in this team."

Crusaders: Jensen, Burns, Coates, Ward, McChrystal (Beverland, 46 mins), Lowry, Forsythe, Heatley, Whyte (Cushley, 87 mins), Murray (Caddell, 79 mins), Owens. Unused subs: O'Neill, Snoddy.

Glentoran: Morris, Kane, Birney, Addis, McMahon (Knowles, 66 mins), Kelly, Allen, Davidson, Kerr, O'Hanlon (McDaid, 68 mins), Nelson (Redman, 46 mins). Unused subs: McGuigan, Gordon.

Referee: Steven Gregg

Man of match: Gavin Whyte

Match rating: 8/10

Belfast Telegraph


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