Belfast Telegraph

There's no place like home for Coates as race hots up

Crusaders 3 Dungannon Swifts 0

By Graham Luney

Crusaders captain Colin Coates is hoping some home comforts can help his side grasp another league championship.

A 3-0 victory at home to Dungannon Swifts helped erase the disappointment of the derby loss to Cliftonville and keeps the north Belfast side two points ahead of Coleraine with six games left.

All points are now precious and the top two are looking so formidable this title race could go to the final round of fixtures.

Coates knows his side are normally too hot to handle at Seaview and as four of their last six clashes are on the Shore Road he's hoping to savour success in familiar surroundings.

"It's a tight title race and Coleraine are on a great run but so are we and we need to look after ourselves," said the centre-back, who opened the scoring against the Swifts.

"We have four home games out of the six left which is good because we are strong here at Seaview where the surface suits the players. It's about chalking off the wins.

"At this stage of the season it's all about the three points and it was nice to bounce back. It was a professional job.

"It's not like Jordan (Owens) to leave the ball but I got a nice connection on the header and it's always nice to see the ball hit the bottom corner of the net.

"We missed a few chances and it was nice to edge in front. It was a good solid performance."

Winger Gavin Whyte slotted in two second half goals and the praise just keeps on coming for the youngster who has been a class above anyone else in the Premiership this season.

"Gavin is on fire and to be honest this was probably a quieter game from him," added Coates.

"Jarlaith O'Rourke did a good marking job on him but the level Gavin is playing at he just needs a little sniff and he scores. This year he has added so many goals to his game and that's impressive from a winger.

"Consistency comes with age, he's 22 and more mature as a person and footballer. This game can be physically and mentally demanding for a teenager but he's a young man now and showing his talent. The Swifts have seven league games remaining and boss Rodney McAree doesn't want the League Cup winners to simply go through the motions.

"We have a lot to play for," he said. "I don't think there's a lack of effort, there's not a lack of trust in the players but we have conceded poor goals."

Crusaders: Jensen, Burns, Coates, Beverland, Ward, Lowry (Caddell, 84 mins), Snoddy (Cushley, 89 mins), Heatley, Whyte, Murray (Forsythe, 64 mins), Owens. Unused subs: O'Neill, Glackin.

Dungannon: Coleman, Hegarty, Wilson (McMenamin, 86 mins), Armstrong, Harpur, O'Rourke, Patton (Teggart, 57 mins), Lowe (Mayse, 78 mins), Clucas, Burke, Hughes. Unused subs: Addis, Fitzpatrick.

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)

Man of match: Gavin Whyte

Match rating: 7/10

Belfast Telegraph

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