Belfast Telegraph

Ruthless rearguard is Crusaders' pride, says Baxter

Institute 0 Crusaders 6

Paul Heatley
Paul Heatley

By Colin Speer

After watching his Crusaders side hit hapless Institute for six on Saturday, boss Stephen Baxter admitted that his side's clean sheet pleased him just as much as their goal glut.

First-half strikes from Paul Heatley and Philip Lowry set the Crues on their way and, with Stute a man light following Mark Scoltock's red card, the visitors added to their tally through Jordan Forsythe, Rory Hale, another for Heatley and a debut goal for Paul McElroy.

"We harp on about it amongst ourselves, but clean sheets are something that are very important to us as well," explained Baxter.

"Last year, we were conceding an average of three in the first eight or nine games and it was something that was foreign to us because we pride ourselves on our defensive shape.

"So the defenders are ruthless. Whilst the lads want to score goals at the top end, these guys don't want to be conceding at the bottom end.

"We had to make three changes to our back four through injury and Billy Joe Burns had an abscess in the mouth overnight and he couldn't even travel, so that was something we had to work on within 24 hours.

"Three changes in your back-four is never good, but I thought Michael Ruddy and Sean Ward in the full-backs positions were excellent. And I thought Howard Beverland, who hadn't played for a few weeks, gave Joe (McCready) a very difficult afternoon, by marking him very tight, because Joe is a very, very good player."

Institute first team coach Sean Friars felt his players showed a lack of heart.

"After a game like that, you tell the players to go and have a look in the mirror and ask themselves if they want to be a footballer," he stated.

"We're playing in the Premiership and the majority of them are not applying themselves properly, not showing enough commitment and not showing enough heart.

"If I said what I really wanted to say you probably wouldn't be able to print it."

INSTITUTE: R Brown, Morrow, Bonner (Leppard, 37 mins), Scoltock, D Curry, McBride, McCauley (McIntyre, 76 mins), McLaughlin, McNamee, Burke, McCready (G Brown, 72 mins).

Crusaders: O'Neill, Hegarty, Ward, Beverland, Ruddy, Forysthe, Lowry (Cushley, 64 mins), Hale, Clarke (McElroy, 80 mins), Heatley, Owens (McGonigle, 46 mins).

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn)

Man of the Match: Ross Clarke

Match Rating: 7/10

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