Watch: Crusaders played like Brazil in County Antrim Shield final, says Matthew Snoddy
Crusaders are channeling their inner Brazil on their quest for a clean sweep.
It was a case of one down, four to go after Tuesday evening's Toals County Antrim Shield success. With the greatest respect, that's perhaps the lowest profile of the five tournaments the Crues are gunning for this season. But with the Irn-Bru Scottish Challenge Cup, the Bet McLean League Cup, the Tennent's Irish Cup and the Danske Bank Premiership all still within the Crues' sights, the CAS success could hold significance beyond the Showgrounds.
It was in Ballymena's own back yard that Crusaders smashed their way to a 4-2 final success. They were 3-0 to the good by the half-way point and midfielder Matthew Snoddy reckons they, at times, resembled a certain national team that frequently don a yellow jersey.
"It was really important to keep momentum going," he began, mulling over the importance of the Crues' first knock-out trophy win since 2012. "Last season, we were 10 points clear of Linfield, got beat in this final and sort of collapsed after that. This was important.
"It feels like a long time since we last won a trophy so it's a really nice feeling to get that back again. I almost forgot what it feels like, to be honest. It doesn't matter what it is, every trophy's a trophy and we want to win them all. It's great to get the first one.
"The performance was outstanding. We played really well and fully deserved the win. The first 20 minutes, we were playing like Brazil," he laughed.
"I was even surprised how well we were playing. The manager didn't let us rest on our laurels though. He said that we had taken our foot off the gas in the last 15 minutes of the half and told us to step it up another couple of gears."
Ballymena did pull the score back to 3-1 to give the Crues a scare but, when Kevin Braniff broke through on goal, Brian Jensen pulled off a top drawer save to stave off further concern.
"When they got the goal, you start panicking a wee bit but Brian's save was massive," said Snoddy. "If that goes in, the pressure is even more, their fans get behind them and it becomes tough. It was a massive, massive save."
There was an equally impressive stop at the other end when, just before the break, Snoddy's long-range pile-driver was acrobatically tipped over by Ballymena keeper Ross Glendinning.
"I hit it and went 'it's in'," Snoddy smiled. "I was running away celebrating, nearly. Ross pulled off a smashing save. The most important thing was the win anyway."
So with four prizes still to play for, which is bang in the centre of Crusaders' sights?
"We've the squad and we want to win them all," said Snoddy, convincingly. "We're not at a point to prioritise trophies. We have to go into every game with that mindset and see where it takes us."
Crusaders continue their Premiership campaign at home to Carrick on Saturday afternoon.
Belfast Telegraph Digital