Belfast Telegraph

'Fabulous' Crusaders can kick on from second-half showing in Queen of the South defeat: Baxter

Queen of the South 4-3 Crusaders

By Alex Mills

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter is convinced his team's second half performance against Queen of the South can help kick-start their domestic season.

The Shore Road boys have failed to kick on following their dramatic Danske Bank Premiership title win last April, having picked up a disappointing seven points from their opening five league games.

That poor form was again evident in Saturday's Irn Bru Challenge Cup second round tie at Palmerstown Park, when the Crues found themselves four goals down at half-time - Stephen Dobbie (2), Lyndon Dykes and Gary Harkins helping to pile on the agony.

Baxter, who was dismissed late on, admitted he feared the worst because it all happened in a sensational 10-minute spell.

But his half-time team talk worked a treat. Rory Patterson's quickfire double - one from the penalty spot - hauled the Crues back into it before Paul Heatley guaranteed the home fans a nervous final five minutes when the grabbed a third.

The revival just fell short, but it left Baxter with a smile on his face.

"It was a typical Crusaders performance in the second half," said Baxter.

"The turnaround was unbelievable. It was one-way traffic in the second 45 minutes - we were fabulous. We passed the ball crisply and accurately and got into good spaces. It was a stunning second half performance.

"I'm certainly not disappointed in any shape or form about the result. If anything, it showed what we are capable of. Hopefully, it will now be the platform for us to kick on at domestic level.

"We have been disappointed with our league results so far, but haven't got what we deserved in some games.

"Most teams have strengthened, the are no easy matches. No one is going to give you a free lunch or an easy ride. We have to earn our points as all the other teams do.

"We must now take that second half performance into our next game against Newry City."

Baxter went on: "We got through unscathed in terms of injury which was a vital thing for me. We left four or five of our first team players at home because of various reasons.

"Some of the players that came in gave a really good account of themselves, so there were a lot of positives to take from the game.

"Yes, we were disappointed with that 10 minutes spell or so, but you have to take your hat off to Queen of the South, they were excellent for that period.

"We managed to weather the storm and we showed the character we have in the side to produce that fabulous second half performance."

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