'Stunning' Crusaders could have hit 'telephone numbers' says boss
Crusaders 5-0 Warrenpoint Town
Crusaders on Tuesday night sent out a statement of intent with this 5-0 demolition of Danske Bank Premiership new boys Warrenpoint Town at Seaview.
Stephen Baxter's men showed little mercy as they continued their mission to bring the title back to the Shore Road.
This game was done and dusted after merely 18 minutes.
The home fans were treated to a goal feast with Jordan Owens, Paul Heatley and Jordan Forsythe leaving Matty Tipton's boys licking their wounds.
When Gavin Whyte slotted home a penalty eight minutes before the break, it was purely a damage limitation exercise for Warrenpoint.
Substitute Michael Carvill finished the job in the second half, but by that stage the visitors were craving the final whistle.
Baxter said: "The game was over at half-time. We scored four goals and missed four sitters, it could have been telephone numbers in the first half.
"I thought we were stunning. We were hungry, clinical and really impressive. We lost Colin (Coates) and Jordan (Owens) because of injury and we lost a little bit of rhythm. We started to hold on to the ball too much.
"We didn't go after the game the way we should have because it was over. Some of the stuff we did was fabulous to watch. We looked like we could score every time we went into their half - it was brilliant to watch and it really excited me. Fair play to Warrenpoint. They changed their shape to make sure we didn't run away with it in the second half."
Owens couldn't fail to hammer home his first goal of the season on five minutes after a sublime cross from Billy Joe Burns.
Tipton's boys attempted to come back with Darren Murray stinging the hands of giant goalkeeper Brian Jensen with a blistering 25-yard free-kick.
But in another wonderful move on 11 minutes, the home team extended their lead. This time, Philip Lowry delivered a peach of a cross for Heatley to turn in with a flick of his head.
Once again Warrenpoint tried to respond with Stephen Murray out-pacing Crues skipper Coates, but he couldn't beat Jensen.
It was all over as a contest on 18 minutes as the visitors were pulled apart by a sweeping move which resulted in Lowry crossing low for Forsythe to ram home.
Seconds later, Owens was right out of luck with an audacious volley.
Caddell then sent Heatley hurtling into the box and, after rounding Alan Blayney, the little striker's shot from a narrow angle was beaten past the post by the back-peddling keeper.
And things got worse for Warrenpoint on 37 minutes when Liam McKenna tripped Caddell just inside the box and referee Jamie Robinson had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.
Whyte confidently stepped up to send Blayney the wrong way.
It was almost five before the break but Lowry's vicious low drive was touched wide.
In another exciting break, involving Lowry, Whyte and Heatley, Owens blasted over the bar when it looked easier to score.
Surprisingly, the home fans had to wait until the 68th minute for their next celebration. Substitute Carvill - on for the injured Owens, who went off with a dead leg - gobbled up a flick from Forsythe before shooting low past Blayney.
CRUSADERS: Jensen, Burns, Coates (Ward 51), Beverland, Brown, Caddell, Forsythe, Lowry, Heatley (Cushley 73), Whyte, Owens (Carvill 46). Subs not used: McClean, Snoddy.
WARRENPOINT: Blayney, Foster (Wallace 71), McCreery, Moan, Lyttle, M Murray, McMenamin, D Murray, S Murray (Frode 46), McKenna, TJ Murray (Lynch 46). Subs not used: Roohi, Turker.
Man of the match: Philip Lowry.
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: Jamie Robinson