Owens and Patterson can be a deadly duo for Crusaders, says boss
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter is certain that new signing Rory Patterson can play up front with Jordan Owens and form a dynamic striking partnership.
In recent seasons, one of the great strengths of Crusaders has been Owens being the central figure in attack with Paul Heatley and Gavin Whyte using their speed and skill either side of the club's record goalscorer to create havoc.
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Whyte joined League One Oxford United in the summer, but with Patterson arriving from Derry City last week, Baxter has a new option.
Patterson showed he has not lost his goalscoring touch with a brilliantly taken debut goal in Monday night's 4-2 defeat of Ards at Seaview - though he was apologetic to Baxter and his new team-mates after attempting a Panenka-style chipped penalty which sailed over the bar when the home team held a narrow 2-1 lead.
While Baxter admitted he was disappointed with the spot-kick, he was delighted with 34-year-old's Patterson's overall display, insisting there is more to come.
With Owens on his way back from a hamstring injury and possibly in line for a place in the squad for Saturday's match with Ballymena United, the champions will pose an even bigger goal threat than they did against Ards.
Asked about a potential Owens/Patterson double act, Baxter said: "They are two incredibly talented players and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jordan and Rory can play together.
"In this country when we reach November and December and the ice is on the ground and the mud is thick round our knees, the pitches sometimes don't allow for what you would call delicate football, and therefore you have to adapt your shape to suit. We will cross all those bridges when we come to them.
"In terms of Jordan's fitness, he is back training and is champing at the bit so he's not too far away."
Patterson added: "It was good to score on my debut, and I thought we played really well in the first half and cut them open. It was a brutal penalty. I shouldn't have done it and am just glad it didn't cost the team."