How Crusaders striker Jamie McGonigle is taking his game up a level, explains boss Stephen Baxter
Warrenpoint Town 0 Crusaders 4
Stephen Baxter says Jamie McGonigle is getting better after the striker hit a stunning goal and set up another as Crusaders eased to victory against bottom side Warrenpoint at Milltown.
Jordan Owens opened the scoring early before McGonigle made it two. The former Coleraine man then forced 'Point captain Danny Wallace to turn the ball into his own net early in the second period before Paul McElroy capped off a dominant day at the office.
McGonigle took his tally for the season into double figures with a 30-yard bullet that flew past Mark Byrne and Baxter says his all-round play is improving as the season progresses.
"He's got that in his locker and we've seen three or four of those already. Once he gets set on that right foot, he's got the ability to score and he strikes the ball very well. But he's working hard off the ball now. I felt he needed to work on his work-rate and he's doing that," admitted Baxter.
"The goals we know are there, it's the other aspects of his game that we're trying to improve with him, but when you have a player of that natural ability, you've got to try and push him on to do well. He's a good lad and a good player, as are all our other lads. They all know they have to work hard for their place and he's doing that."
The Crues took the lead on the seventh minute, with McElroy's corner seeing Owens turn in a Jarlath O'Rourke volley from close range.
McGonigle doubled the lead four minutes before half-time when he collected the ball before unleashing a stunning drive that flew into the top right corner, giving Byrne no chance. The third arrived on the hour mark when the striker raced down the left and his low cross was turned into his own net by Wallace.
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Three became four 12 minutes from time and once again it came from the left-hand side. This time it was sub David Cushley who drove in a low cross that was rammed home by McElroy from close range to wrap up the scoring.
With Institute losing away to Linfield, Warrenpoint remain level with Sean Connor's men at the foot of the table and manager Barry Gray admitted that his threadbare squad simply ran out of steam after a hectic festive period.
"It was a step too far for us with the squad we have at the minute," Gray said.
"Three games in a week when you're relying on pretty much the same 11 or 12 players in every game is tough."
WARRENPOINT TOWN: Byrne, Mullen, Wallace, Smith, Bennett (Cowan, 64 mins), Young (McCann, 82 mins), McVeigh, Watters, Doyle, O'Sullivan, Scannell (Murnaghan, 82 mins). Subs not used: Turker, O'Kane, McDonnell, Daly.
CRUSADERS: Doherty, Burns (K Owens, 90 mins), O'Rourke, Brown, Forsythe, Caddell, Thompson, McElroy, McGonigle (McGinley, 80 mins), J Owens (Cushley, 64 mins), Heatley. Subs not used: O'Neill, Beverland, Lowry, Ruddy.
Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)
Man of the Match: McGonigle
Match Rating: 6/10