Belfast Telegraph

We'll give it a blast but Belfast team will win the title, says Glenavon coach

Crusaders 2-3 Glenavon

By Graham Luney

Glenavon for the league title then? Whisper it quietly around Mourneview Park but after this dismantling of Crusaders at Seaview they are ahead of both the Crues and Linfield in the Danske Bank Premiership table and manager Gary Hamilton will be happy with that after 10 matches.

There's just Coleraine in front of them, five points ahead, but the Lurgan Blues are averaging just over three goals a game and have the Premiership's top finisher with Andrew Mitchell on eight strikes.

They looked a ruthless attacking machine on Saturday and the Crues had no answer to the visitors' explosive start.

Clearly, it's a squad moving in the right direction with creativity and confidence in their ranks but coach Kris Lindsay, one of the men in the dressing room who understands what it takes to win a league title, was naturally steering away from any wild predictions, even after this deserved victory over a formidable Crusaders side.

"I see we are up to second after Coleraine beat Linfield but our objective has always been to qualify for Europe," said Lindsay.

"That's not going to change, we are a young and enthusiastic squad and we'll be going out to win every game but we don't have a big squad and injuries and suspensions could take their toll on us.

"We will give it a blast but we won't say we can win the league. I still fully expect Linfield and Crusaders to be battling it out for first and second in the league.

"Coleraine have had an amazing start but I expect the two Belfast clubs to fight it out. We will win as many games as we can and Europe is our goal.

"The longer the season goes on when it gets to the business end Linfield and Crusaders have the best squads, full of quality and that's what wins you league titles.

"If Coleraine can stay injury free who knows? They could do a Leicester City but I believe the Blues and Crues will be in there fighting it out for the title."

Northern Ireland Under-21 international Mark Sykes slotted in the opener in the third minute but Paul Heatley's smashing finish on 11 minutes brought the sides level.

Three minutes later Marc Griffin put the Lurgan side ahead and Mitchell made it 3-1 on 26 minutes.

Substitute David Cushley drilled in a late consolation but the damage was done as Crusaders now reflect on recording only eight out of a possible 18 points in their home league games so far.

Crues boss Stephen Baxter, not for the first time this season at Seaview, cut a frustrated figure and there was the painful realisation his side cannot continue to give silly goals away.

"You've got to sometimes credit the opposition," he said. "They had players who were lively and smart. Young Marshall drove at us in the right places and sets up two goals. Young Sykes moved about the pitch at a different level than everyone else, he looks a quality player so credit where it's due.

"In many ways it's frustrating for us but this is a big boys league and we have a League Cup game against Coleraine on Tuesday followed by Linfield in the league. I'd like to see more consistency and desire. You can't offer good teams goals. We need to cut out the errors that are not Crusaders' style."

Crusaders: Jensen, Burns, Coates, Ward, Brown, Carvill (Forsythe 29), Lowry (Snoddy 62), Caddell 5 (Cushley 76), Heatley, Whyte, Owens. Subs (not used): Beverland, Glackin.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Burns, Doyle, Daniels, Marshall, Mitchell (McCavitt), Griffin, (McGrory 89), Hall, Sykes, Marron, Singleton. Subs (not used): Foley, O'Mahony, Jenkins.

Referee: Evan Boyce

Man of match: Rhys Marshall

Match rating: 8/10.

Belfast Telegraph

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