Belfast Telegraph

'Really good to beat Linfield': What Crusaders had to say about their Friday night win at Seaview

PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/10/2019
Crusaders v Linfield Danske Bank Premiership
Crusaders Manager Stephen Baxter with match winner Rory Hale after beating Linfield at evenings game at Seaview in Belfast.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 04/10/2019 Crusaders v Linfield Danske Bank Premiership Crusaders Manager Stephen Baxter with match winner Rory Hale after beating Linfield at evenings game at Seaview in Belfast. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Having seen Linfield smash seven goals past Glenavon six days earlier, it's little wonder Crusaders seemed particularly pleased with their clean sheet at Seaview on Friday evening.

The league leaders went, temporarily at least, six points clear thanks to their 1-0 victory over the Blues as Rory Hale bagged the only goal of the game at the start of the second half.

And as good as the midfielder's looping shot was as it flew into the top corner, his efforts at the other end of the pitch were praised just as much come full-time.

He was tasked with marking Linfield's tricky Bastien Hery, who is quickly making a name for himself since his summer arrival.

"He was outstanding," striker Jordan Owens told the BBC of team-mate Hale. "The boys were saying during the week about Hery but (Hale) was all over him like a rash. He's a good player but when you've got Rory in your team, he'll put in a performance.

"We were up against the champions and it was a great performance from one to eleven. Linfield put us under a bit of pressure but we defended well.

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"We're going to have big games and you have to win games like these to win leagues. What a performance we put in."

Manager Stephen Baxter, having watched his side keep their first clean sheet in five games, said their sterling defensive efforts were birthed in the summer's European tie against Wolves.

"These are hard, hard games to win," he said on BBC 2. "We did our homework and got about our business. Linfield had an awful lot of the ball and at times it was good to watch but they didn't penetrate us and that's what it's all about.

"We learnt a lot of that defensive shape from the Wolves game, making sure we're not penetrated easily. I think the quality of our game has improved enormously after the European games.

"It felt like Linfield had 80% of the ball but we carved the big chances in the game when we were able to get in behind their defence. We got the goal and got in behind another couple of times. That's the pleasing aspect for us. It's only three points but it's always a big game to win.

"Linfield are a class act and we've stood tall but on any given night they could carve you open and it could be a different game at Windsor Park."

The two sides are likely to be fighting it out for the title and they next go head to head at Windsor on December 21.

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