Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter looks to the future after defeat

Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter

Crusaders chief Stephen Baxter is looking for a response from his wounded troops in Friday night’s Premiership clash against Glenavon at Seaview (7.45pm).

The Shore Road boys dropped 10 points off the title pace after last weekend’s 4-0 drubbing by table-topping Cliftonville.

But instead of licking their wounds, Baxter is urging his boys to get back on track against Gary Hamilton’s fact-improving Lurgan Blues.

“When you take time and reflect, the game hinged on two vital moments. We had a chance to take the lead, but Gary McCutcheon screwed his show wide at the back post and they go straight up the pitch in hit us with two killer blows.

“We were chasing the game after that – and they gave us a football lesson in the second half. In all honesty, it could have been more. They did to us what we have done to many teams.

“But as I told the boys in training this week, no-one has died, there is no-one missing in action. They must put it behind them and get on with it.”

Baxter admits it’s now going to take a mammoth effort for his team to get back into title contention.

“You never say never when it is mathematically possible,” he added.

“In saying that, it’s a big ask . . . it will be mightily difficult. But we must remain focused. Even if we don’t catch the teams above, we just sure we claim third place, which brings a lucrative European draw.”