Belfast Telegraph

Win over Linfield means nothing if Crusaders don't back it up, says Beverland


Big win: Crusaders defender Howard Beverland celebrates the victory over Linfield at Seaview
Big win: Crusaders defender Howard Beverland celebrates the victory over Linfield at Seaview
David Jeffrey

By Graham Luney

Crusaders defender Howard Beverland insists last week's brilliant win over Linfield will count for little if they fail to build on that crucial victory.

The Crues got the better of their title rivals in the first head to head showdown of the season when Rory Hale's stunning strike settled the Seaview showdown.

Stephen Baxter's men are now setting the pace in the Danske Bank Premiership, five points clear of second placed Coleraine while the Blues are 10 adrift with three games in hand.

But the Shore Road men know Linfield will respond to that setback in the manner you expect from champions and the north Belfast side will need to keep their foot on the accelerator.

Just as one difficult hurdle is passed another one comes into view, with Ballymena United awaiting at the Showgrounds this afternoon.

Former Coleraine ace Beverland says it's vital the Irish Cup holders keep chalking off the victories.

"The win over Linfield will quickly be forgotten about if we don't build on the result and performance by winning games," warned Beverland.

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"If we don't play well against Ballymena United we will lose the game and there are enough experienced players at Crusaders who know that there are another three games against Linfield and we can't get carried away.

"It's just three points and you know Linfield will come back stronger and more determined to win the next one.

"It was a brilliant atmosphere to play in, it was a packed Seaview and, alongside Coleraine, you had the two in-form teams who had also given a good account of themselves in Europe.

"It was the first test against Linfield and they started very strongly.

"We knew they could score goals from anywhere and Shayne Lavery was a big threat.

"We were scoring freely as well and it was one of the better head to heads between the sides.

"There was great hunger from both sides and a strong intensity to the game.

"Thankfully, we came away with the three points.

"We were really happy with the clean sheet because Linfield clearly have great firepower.

"If you can grind out a result like that it gives you more confidence."

After being held 1-1 at Institute, the Sky Blues will be looking to return to the winning trail.

"David Jeffrey has built a very good squad over the years and he has brought in hungry, young players who maybe have a point to prove," added Beverland.

"There's a greater depth to their squad and it's always tough against them.

"If David Jeffrey was in charge of Comber Rec you know you would be in for a tough game!

"It will be a tough, physical battle and we will need to adjust to the challenge.

"Even when there's little to play for, United are formidable opponents."

The Crues will make a swift return to the Ballymena Showgrounds on Tuesday night for a County Antrim Shield quarter-final tie.

Back to back fixtures against tough opponents are never ideal scenarios but the Crues are hungry to march on in every competition they enter.

Under Jeffrey's shrewd management, Linfield claimed the clean sweep of trophies in 2006 and with each passing season we are reminded of the magnitude of that achievement.

"I think it's possible to win all the trophies but you are relying on so many things going your way," said Beverland.

"You need suspensions and injuries going in your favour so you are strong enough to keep going. Squad depth is important and knowing Stephen (Baxter) he'll want to win all the competitions.

"He's been putting out strong teams in the different competitions but certain clubs will put out very strong sides because it's a realistic chance of winning silverware.

"A clean sweep hasn't been done for a long time, which shows how difficult it is, but it comes down to mentality and attitude as well.

"If your attitude isn't right you will get dumped out of competitions."

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