No points, no goals, no fans – just another tough day at the office for Linfield boss David Jeffrey.
The toothless Blues suffered their second successive defeat of the new Premiership campaign, leaving huge question marks over their quest regain the title – even at this early stage.
A two-goal blast from the towering Jordan Owens did the damage, earning Stephen Baxter’s boys their first points of the season.
Linfield supporters boycotted the fixture – a result of Crusaders’ decision force a legal review into government funding for the redevelopment of Windsor Park.
In fact, the entire Linfield management committee also demonstrated their anger as they also give the game a miss.
Jeffrey, however, failed to criticise his boys, stating: “We are currently a work in progress, but I do admit this is the first time I’ve been disappointed with the performance levels and I’ve informed the players of that.
“I thought they were well below par. It wasn’t really the type of game were either side was going to create many goal scoring opportunities. I don’t think this type of surface helped either as it isn’t conducive to good football and that really showed in the performance, we simply did not create enough.”
Jeffrey did admit his team failed to match the threat of Owens and Timmy Adamson, adding: “We were up against a typically strong Crusaders team who are physical and will take the game to you. Adamson and Owens are two powerful strikers and, unfortunately, on the day we could not combat their physicality.”
Owens shrugged off a personal bereavement on the recent death of his grandfather, to power the Crues into the lead just before the break - his diving header giving Johnny Tuffey no chance.
And the big striker sealed the victory midway through the second half by again powering home an Eamon McAllister corner kick.
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter hailed the contribution of talisman Owens.
“He was the class act out there,” he purred. “It was as good a performance I’ve seen in some time. Jordan scored two super headers and he got himself into positions to score even more which he might even be slightly disappointed with.
“We moved the ball about with a lot of quality in the right areas on the pitch and created plenty of openings to score. We looked much more like ourselves today – more accomplished and more confident.”