Belfast Telegraph

Warrenpoint war was tailor-made for Owens, says Crusaders captain Coates

Warrenpoint Town 2-3 Crusaders

By Gareth McCullough

Captain Colin Coates felt half-time came just when Crusaders needed it as they came from behind to beat Warrenpoint Town.

Despite dominating the early exchanges and going in front through Paul Heatley, the Crues found themselves 2-1 down at the break following opportunistic strikes from Martin and Darren Murray. However, Stephen Baxter's men hit back to level courtesy of Jordan Forsythe before Jordan Owens powered home a header for the winner.

With leaders Coleraine winning, it was important for Crusaders to keep within six points with a game in hand.

"Psychologically for Coleraine, it would have been nice for them to have gone nine clear, but it keeps us on their tails. We've a lot of games coming up, so it was good to get it played. Thankfully, we got the result," said Coates.

"We dominated the first 20 minutes, then scored and probably switched off a bit. Warrenpoint capitalised and played on the counter-attack really well.

"They probably deserved their lead at half-time even though we had more chances. We got in at half-time and made sure that we did the basics well in the second half. We knew that with the quality we have at the top end of the pitch we could get the goals."

The winner was a trademark header from Owens and Coates feels it was the perfect game for the striker.

"Sometimes when you have days like this when it's cold and the pitch maybe isn't so good, the likes of Gavin Whyte can find it a bit more difficult to run at people. Then you turn to Jordan more to get you that sort of goal and win those battles," he said.

Having played seven games in November, Saturday's victory was the first of six in the final month of the year for the Crues and with Howard Beverland missing out through suspension, the likes of Michael Carvill and Philip Lowry should return sooner rather than later.

"We need as many players available as possible to rotate the team," said Coates. "Michael is close to making a comeback. Philip Lowry has his cast off.

"Here, a few of us probably wouldn't be too happy with the performances, but it was a tough game. We'll chalk it off as a win and move on to the next one."

WARRENPOINT: Parr, Reilly, McMenamin, Dane, Wallace, McGrandles (TJ Murray, 68 mins), Mackle (Forde, 79 mins), Davidson (Moan, 90 mins), M Murray, D Murray, S Murray. Unused subs: Lyttle, Turker.

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, McChrystal, Coates, Brown, Caddell (Cushley, 46 mins (Ward, 87 mins)), Forsythe, Snoddy, Owens, Heatley, Whyte (Glackin, 90 mins). Unused subs: Dougherty, McClean.

Man of the match: Paul Heatley

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon)

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