Belfast Telegraph

We'll keep firing on all cylinders in title mission, warns Whyte

By Alex Mills

Flying winger Gavin Whyte believes Crusaders are in the best possible shape to launch another Danske Bank Premiership title assault.

Stephen Baxter's boys have been mightily impressive in their opening two fixtures, hammering in nine goals in games against Ballymena United and Warrenpoint Town.

They may have been pipped to the title by Linfield right at the death last season - in their bid for a hat-trick of Gibson Cup successes - but there is no question of the Shore Road boys feeling sorry for themselves.

Instead, they have emerged with all guns blazing and have sent out an early message of intent - they want the Gibson Cup back at Seaview.

However, they face an acid test today against Oran Kearney's impressive Coleraine side, who travel to Belfast with an unblemished record of their own, so something must give.

"This will be our toughest game so far," stressed Whyte, whose performances last season had a number of cross-channel scouts sniffing around.

"But we'll go into it just like any other fixture - wanting to get three points.

"We have nothing to prove in terms of losing out on the title last season. That is now gone. We don't look back. We can't do anything about it. We are now looking forward to every game and we aim to go all the way this season.

"Coleraine are like ourselves, unbeaten in two games. They had a great run in the league to finish in third place last season and went all the way to the Irish Cup final.

"They gave us a lot of trouble when we played them last year, so it will be a tough game. By the same token, we are hard to beat on our home pitch."

On the evidence of Tuesday night's 5-0 hammering of Premiership new boys Warrenpoint Town, the Crues certainly showed no signs of a hangover from last season's title near-miss.

"We hit five but it could have been a lot more," said Whyte. "It was only our second game and the three points were more important - we'll take that all day long.

"They just couldn't live with us in the first half, we hammered them. They regrouped at half-time and changed their shape. They obviously wanted to avoid any embarrassment.

"The game was dead at half-time. To be honest, few teams could have lived with us on the first-half performance.

"We did drop our standards a bit in the second half, but by that time the game was over.

"It's been a good start, nine goals and only one conceded. Regardless of the opposition, it's six points from two games - that's what we were after."

Even though Crues skipper Colin Coates sustained a hamstring tweak and big striker Jordan Owens was withdrawn because of a dead leg problem, Whyte insists there is now adequate cover.

He added: "We will obviously hope they can recover, I don't think their injuries were too serious.

"But we have a great squad of players at the club. We have players of equal quality to come in and do a job."

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