Belfast Telegraph

Fearless Institute are relishing major challenges ahead, says McCrudden


By Alex Mills

Skipper Michael McCrudden admits he's a man of few words, but he is happy for his Institute team-mates to do the talking on the pitch.

The North West team have made an impressive start to life in the Danske Bank Premiership having reeled in eight points from five starts.

McCrudden believes they have let themselves down only once so far - that was against Linfield - but stresses they paid David Healy's side too much respect in a 3-0 defeat at Windsor Park.

However, the 26-year-old knows there are many big tests up ahead and rates tonight's showdown with Cliftonville at Solitude as one of those challenges.

"The boys are relishing every game," he said. "They have been fantastic. No one could have predicted the start we have made.

"Admittedly, we did let ourselves down against the Blues - we basically showed them too much respect. I just wish we could play them again soon.

"As captain, I wouldn't be the biggest talker in the dressing room - I leave that to the gaffer (Paddy McLaughlin). But once I get out there, I like to take responsibility."

McCrudden admits the fear of relegation helps drive on the team. Institute have racked up wins against Warrenpoint Town and Newry City, while they have taken a point from their respective games against Dungannon Swifts and Coleraine.

"The character of the squad will be challenged if, and when, we lose a couple of games on the bounce," said McCrudden.

"The reaction will show what sort of a team we are. We are now five games in and we haven't experienced anything to be frightened of as yet.

"We had a great result at Coleraine (2-2). They would maybe say they were not at their best, but I thought we were good. We have no fear of any team.

"Our priority is to stay in the division. Paddy hasn't set targets. Every game is a challenge. If we can survive in our first year, then we can build from there."

Following the club's well documented nightmare last season when their Drumahoe Stadium was ruined by a horrific spell of weather, Institute feel very much at home at The Brandywell.

"It's great that we are playing in the city," added McCrudden. "We trained there for most of last year, so we were delighted to make it our home for this season. It's a good surface and a great stadium.

"I'm sure every team will look forward to playing on it, although they may not be too keen on the journey. We are also unbeaten there which is a bonus.

"Cliftonville will be another big test. I know their results have been poor and they are sitting in the bottom half of the table, but they have loads of quality. They are bound to come good - I just hope it isn't against us."

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