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We can shoot down Linfield's defensive record, says Crusaders star

By Graham Luney

Sean Ward is confident Crusaders have the firepower to smash Linfield's incredible domestic clean sheet record this season. The Blues are averaging two goals a game in this season's Premiership but they have yet to concede a goal in five matches.

With the familiar old saying 'defences win championships' never far from our minds, that's a worrying development for title hopefuls.

Crusaders suffered championship heartbreak at the end of last season and defeat at Seaview tonight would see them slide six points behind the Blues and Coleraine.

Linfield's backline, superbly marshalled by Northern Ireland stopper Roy Carroll, has been resolute, but former Windsor Park favourite Ward says his new team-mates can find a way through.

"Linfield have started very well and their defensive record has been impressive," admitted Ward.

"They haven't conceded a goal in domestic competition but I also believe they haven't faced an opponent with the attacking threat that we have.

"We have a goalscoring threat from all over the park and that makes this an intriguing game of football.

"Both teams have been talked about as title challengers and they will go for the win."

Ward, who moved to the Crues from Linfield in the summer, has been able to offer manager Stephen Baxter some valuable information on Blues aces, but Seaview old boy Andrew Mitchell is up to similar tricks.

"I had great times at Linfield, the club were great with me, but I'm a Crusaders player with the same professional outlook," said Ward.

"I'll be doing everything in my power to bring success to Crusaders, and I suppose with myself coming from Linfield I'm in a position to pass on information to Stephen (Baxter), but likewise Andrew Mitchell can tell David (Healy) all about our players. You try anything to give yourself an edge and certainly we do not want to fall six points behind a title rival at any stage.

"It was a disappointing result and performance against Coleraine and the manager was rightly critical of the players. Stephen (Baxter) is quick to praise the players when they play well so you have to accept criticism when it is deserved.

"It's another big game and from our perspective we don't want to fall too far behind.

"We have made a pretty good start and played well in stages of games without being exceptional.

"We have conceded a few silly goals and it's one aspect of our performances we are looking to improve on."

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