Belfast Telegraph

I did check my passport: Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter relives 'spectacular' moment his side took the lead against Wolves

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter salutes the support after his side's game against Wolves.
Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter salutes the support after his side's game against Wolves.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

For just a few seconds at Seaview, the impossible dream was alive.

It was David versus Goliath.

And when the ball flew off Wolves defender Ryan Bennett's head into the top corner of his own net to give Crusaders the lead over Wolves, it was like the first pebble flying out of the slingshot and landing on the giant's head.

A packed stadium believed. For a few seconds.

"I did check my passport," jokes Crues boss Stephen Baxter, smiling back at the moment pandemonium was unleashed in north Belfast.

"It was spectacular. It was a wonderful moment to see that hit the back of the net. The whole bench celebrated it with the fans. It was really tremendous and we had a few other moments in the match as well when we put them under pressure.

"It was a wonderful moment for the club here tonight. To see a full house against a Premier League team and them play their best team. Make no mistake about it - they were here with their best side trying to win. They put everything they had into the tank tonight.

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"If you heard the roar from their team coming out of the changing room, they were trying their eyestrings out as if they were playing Liverpool. That's the biggest compliment they could pay us, they way they played this game. For our wee team to stand up to it - fantastic."

In the end, Goliath came back with a driving punch that, just a minute later, saw the classy Raul Jimenez level to set his side on their way to a 4-1 win on the night, 6-1 on aggregate.

"It's never easy losing 4-1 but when it's to Wolves, you say 'fair enough'," said Baxter.

"To play a team of that quality and lose 6-1 says a lot about what we've accomplished. They did us such an honour in playing their best team in both legs. They gave us a masterclass in ball retention and movement but credit to our boys for how we shut them down. We thwarted them time after time.

"To take the lead and scare them for all of 30 seconds was good. It was a nice moment.

When Crusaders take the lead against Wolves at's TAPS AFF! 😎

Posted by Belfast Telegraph Sport on Thursday, August 1, 2019

"I'm very proud of how our boys have handled the two legs. They're bringing in £30m players across the team. When you see them up close and how they operate, for us to stand up against that has been fantastic.

"You've got to keep hold of the ball. Their movement was so good. They're three and four steps ahead of you. We're on the back foot all the time but what we'll take out of it is that if we can play against Wolves in two legs like that, there's no reason we can't defend against quality teams over here like that.

"Sometimes whenever we put our best foot forward, we have to understand that we don't have to win the game in the first 15 minutes all the time. We have to see our way into games, keep the ball better and keep our shape better.

"I wished Nuno Espirito Santo well. Hopefully we'll be able to watch them on TV in the final. They're top people, with a top manager and we wish them well."

Crusaders have battled with Goliath and, for a few seconds at least, had him on the ropes.


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