Baxter relieved to have skipper Coates available for clash

Colin Coates heads clear for Crusaders

Colin Coates heads clear for Crusaders

  • by Alex Mills

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter admitted he had to use all his persuasive powers to talk defender Colin Coates into action at wet, blustery, Seaview on Saturday.

The 28-year-old skipper pulled up in the warm-up, having injured his back, but a quick session with the physio and a little jog with the gaffer got the fans’ favourite back on track.

“Colin very nearly didn’t play,” declared Baxter. “He arrived with a back complaint, which got worse in the warm-up. His little one is in hospital and he has been sitting an an armchair for the best part of three days.

“His back wasn’t right, but we nursed him through it. We did a little bit of work on him and used a little bit of psychology -- what a performance he put in.”

But Coates is not the only problem ahead of tomorrow night’s League Cup semi final against Ballymena United.

“Being honest, I have concerns over five or six players -- it’ like the walking wounded in there,” added Baxter.

“Josh Robinson appears to have pulled a hamstring . . . you don’t recover from that inside a few days. We actually had to name David Magwoan among the substitutes today. He sustained an ankle injury at Dungannon last week and was due to sit out. He failed a fitness test, but because of Colin’s situation, we were forced to name him on the bench.

“As it turned out, Josh had to come off. David is a bit of a lion-heart, so he came on for the last five minutes. Coates, Robinson and Magowan are three big players for us so it gives me a bit of a headache for the midweek game.”

Although the Crues extended their unbeaten run to 23 games, the result meant they were knocked off the Premierships top spot, but Baxter was far from despondent.

“I thought we dominated in all areas of the pitch. We missed one or two gilt-edged chances of putting the game away,” he said.

“Glentoran will go up the road very happy with a point tucked under their belt.”

Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris was the stand-out performer. He produced a series of wonderful saves, particularly from Gary McCutcheon and Paul Heatley, to help his team pinch a point.

“Crusaders will probably feel a bit disappointed at dropping points at home, but they are on a great unbeaten run,” said Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson.

“There is a long way to go in this title race. Portadown are now in the hunt – the top six teams are all very close.

“Obviously, we want to keep holding on to the coat tails of the teams above us, so it was a good point for us. The wind and the elements were a big factor on how the game panned out.”

With the imminent departure of Jimmy Callacher, who is about to join rivals Linfield, and Ryan O’Neill -- he is to take up employment in America -- Patterson admitted he may be forced to look at bolstering his squad in next month’s transfer window. Defender Calum Birney could also be missing for six weeks after sustaining a medial knee ligament injury against the Crues.




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