IRISH LEAGUE: Crusaders captain Colin Coates hopes weekend victory is launchpad to title surge

Crusaders captain Colin Coates
Crusaders captain Colin Coates
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Crusaders skipper Colin Coates hopes Saturday’s win over Dungannon Swifts can be the launchpad to title glory this season.

The Crues bounced back from a shock defeat to Carrick Rangers to earn a 2-0 victory over the Swifts, and regain their five-point lead at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership.

Six games stand between Stephen Baxter’s side and back-to-back title triumphs.

Tuesday night’s trip to Ballinamallard United will be followed by five crunch fixtures against the teams in the top half of the table.

“It’s always a tough trip to Ferney Park,” Coates said of Tuesday’s test against the Mallards (7.45pm).

“We’ll go down there knowing we’ll need to dig another result out.

“Ballinamallard lost at Linfield last Thursday night, but by all accounts they played well. I saw the highlights and going from what their players said, they might have got a point from the game, so we’re under no illusions how tough it will be.

“At the end of the day, all we can do is worry about ourselves and what we do.

“We drew 1-1 down there earlier in the season, so we know we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and dig in.

“We are five points ahead, and while that gap should probably be greater, it is still a decent lead to take into the last six games.”

Meanwhile, nearest rivals Linfield travel to Milltown to face basement club Warrenpoint Town.

“Warrenpoint will be a tough game. They have a good manager who I respect and they have picked up some decent results recently,” Blues boss David Healy said.

“They are fighting for their lives and will be desperate for every point.”

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Dungannon Swifts entertain Portadown in a crunch basement battle at Stangmore Park.

Also, fifth-place Coleraine travel to Glentoran who are one position below.