Belfast Telegraph

Shrewd Baxter is keeping Crues' feet firmly on ground

By Graham Luney

Stephen Baxter doesn't really want to talk about title races or look at the Danske Bank Premiership league table - and for good reason.

The Crusaders boss has too much experience as a player and manager to know that this game can bite you where it hurts and when you least expect it.

His side may be five points clear at the top of the table after 16 matches but the moment complacency creeps in is also the moment the wheels come off the wagon.

It's top against bottom tomorrow as the Hatchetmen travel to Warrenpoint Town but the Milltown men have received a timely confidence boost by progressing to the League Cup semi-finals.

"League tables, while they are important, don't really come into our thinking at this stage of the season," said former Linfield and Crues striker Baxter.

"We are just trying to win every game and get to the Christmas period with as many points as possible. You want to be in the hunt and I feel we are on the right track. I've felt in the last few weeks we have done enough in games but we haven't been running away from opponents.

"Against Glentoran we looked more like ourselves from last season.

"We started to dominate the game and if you want to kick on you are going to have to produce performances like that.

"There are tough tests everywhere from Portadown's late win against Carrick Rangers to Glenavon's late winner against Dungannon Swifts. You'll need to be on your toes for every one of them. It's always a tough game at Warrenpoint but we will go there with confidence and put our shoulder to the wheel again."

One man who impressed against the Glens is one of the unsung heroes at Seaview - midfielder Matthew Snoddy.

"Matthew signed a three-year contract with us last week, along with Declan (Caddell), Craig (McClean) and Richard (Clarke)," added Baxter.

"The commitment of these guys is fantastic. All four of them were signed in 30 minutes.

"The boys just wanted to get their names on the form and they love it here, where they are playing well.

"Young Matthew is 22-years-old and has a bright future. He needs to keep working hard and stay in this team."

Ballymena United supporters' groups have appealed for troublemakers to stay away from the Showgrounds.

There was violent disorder outside the ground and in the town after Wednesday night's League Cup loss to Coleraine.

A fans' statement read: "As supporters, we have a duty to each other to represent our club in the most favourable light possible and scenes like those last night fall far short of the mark.

"They fall short, too, in terms of the respect we are obliged to show the residents of Warden Street and the wider community on whom the club rely for support.

"Most seriously of all, we need to bear the safety of our fellow fans in mind and ensure that the next generation of Sky Blues fans aren't dissuaded from following in our footsteps by the anti-social actions of the minority.

"Let us be clear that those individuals who attend any match intent on trouble are not welcome among us and we say simply, not in our name."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph