Belfast Telegraph

'Nobody in the country can match him': Stephen Baxter hails unplayable Jordan Owens as Crusaders earn Europa League win at Seaview

Crusaders' Jordan Owens delivered a top draw performance at Seaview to help his side towards a Europa League tie against Wolves.
Crusaders' Jordan Owens delivered a top draw performance at Seaview to help his side towards a Europa League tie against Wolves.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Crusaders striker Jordan Owens, when on top form, is the best striker in the Irish League.

That's the view of Crues boss Stephen Baxter, whose words were backed up by the outstanding performance he had just witnessed against what was a shellshocked B36 Torshavn.

Owens' display was key to what was a convincing 2-0 win at Seaview in the Europa League first qualifying round tie first leg at Seaview.

While the Faroese visitors had the Crues watched and were planning to counteract Owens' aerial threat, manager Jákup á Borg admitted that, in the flesh, the striker was too good for his team to cope with.

"I think we were shocked," he said. "We knew that (Owens) was physical but not quite as strong as he was tonight - that was a bit of a shock. We also knew Paul Heatley was quick. My players had watched a lot of games so we knew what to expect but still they caught us by surprise."

Owens, even though he missed a second minute penalty at Seaview, went on to set up the second goal with a flicked header for Philip Lowry.

While B36 seemed well short of the Crues' quality, Baxter reckoned that the gap was accentuated by a top drawer performance from his centre-forward.

Sign In

"Jordan Owens was immense. He won every single header and we could play off that second ball with the runners," he said.

"When he plays like he played tonight, no centre-forward in the country can match him.

"He is simply unplayable and he was unplayable tonight. There were five players marking him at the near post and he won every single header.

"That's the quality of Jordan Owens. I thought he was amazing. His workrate and what he did off the ball, how he let the team function was part of what we tried to do tonight.

"We knew they were trying to nullify him but when Jordan's playing like that, it doesn't matter what you do.

"Philip Lowry was outstanding also. There were a lot of positives, but only if we complete the job."

The carrot dangling on the end this stick, of course, is a tie against Premier League side Wolves.

Baxter's ban on the mention of the word will remain until progression is signed, sealed and delivered and the boss knows that could be even closer and his team failed to make the most of their utter dominance.

"The gameplan worked a treat," he said of a first half performance that yielded nine shots on goal.

"We put them in all sorts of pressure, getting early balls into the box.

"We dominated the first half with I would say 90% of possession.

"We didn't get the right shot away, otherwise it would have been six or seven. We were disappointed we didn't have more goals.

"We knew if we could keep the pressure on in the second half, we could get a good lead. The only disappointment is it's only a two goal lead because our play deserved three or four.

"The team tonight in its entirety was exceptional. Everybody worked to the game plan. Their tireless running was unbelievable, extraordinary considering they're only back in a few weeks. You have to take your hat off to them.

"It's half-time and you don't take anything for granted. If their quality opens you up, you could be in trouble. A team can score three goals against you very quickly."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph