Belfast Telegraph

Owens and Cushley ooze quality, says Baxter

 

Star man: David Cushley
Star man: David Cushley

By Steven Beacom

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter has hailed dynamic striking duo Jordan Owens and David Cushley after the pair inspired an impressive and crucial comeback win at Warrenpoint.

Trailing 1-0 at Milltown and approaching the hour mark, Baxter threw on his big guns to change the game. He was not disappointed as Cushley's class and the physical presence of Owens lifted the visitors and at the same time had a disheartening impact on Warrenpoint, who up until that point had coped well with the champions.

Neither scored but they were the difference as the Crues netted twice in two minutes through Matthew Snoddy and Billy Joe Burns. Later, a Simon Kelly own goal made it 3-1 giving the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the play in the last 30 minutes.

The win moved third-placed Crusaders six points clear of Glenavon and kept them within five points of Ballymena United.

Baxter says that catching league leaders Linfield may be too much of an ask but Ballymena remain within reach. The Crues are also chasing Irish Cup glory having already won the County Antrim Shield.

With a number of vital games on the horizon, Baxter was keen to give Owens and Cushley a rest at Warrenpoint but needed them in the end.

"I felt they needed a bit of a break, especially with all the big matches coming up," said Baxter.

"We made a lot of changes and gave opportunities to players who haven't played much football lately and at the same time give players who have put in so much effort in recent weeks a little rest.

"We called on Jordan and David in the second half to up the ante and they did that in a really impressive way.

"For the final 30 minutes we scored the goals that we needed to in order to win the game and we could have had a few more as we dominated in that period."

Crusaders are in fine form having won four games in a row this month. They will be out to make it five away to Ards on Saturday before ending March with an Irish Cup semi-final against Coleraine.

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