Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter last night insisted his boys laid down a title marker following their 3-1 win over Ballinamallard United at Seaview.
The Danske Bank Premiership champions again roared seven points clear of Linfield and threw down the gauntlet - ‘catch us if you can’.
Although Shane McGinty shot United ahead, the Crues turned on the style with Jordan Owens levelling before Paul Heatley hit two wonder strikes.
Baxter’s boys now travel to Coleraine for a top of the table clash at the weekend, but the boss’ reaction was emphatic - ‘bring it on’.
“Questions were asked of us with different people putting pressure on after Linfield cut the gap to four points at the weekend,” said Baxter.
“I think we answered those questions really well.
“The score probably doesn’t reflect how well we have played. When the opposing manager said it was a training session for us, that says a lot for me. I couldn’t have asked for any more from the boys.”
Baxter admitted Heatley’s goals were special, adding: “They were worth the admission money alone. We have missed his little bit of quality and pace for three weeks.
“He was excellent. His two goals were of different quality. We see it every night in training, so it’s no big surprise to us.”
United boss Gavin Dyles had no complaints with the outcome.
“I am very proud of the boys. We had a game plan and they stuck to it,” he said.
“But there is no point in lying about it, quality beat us in the end.
“Heatley hit two goal of the season contenders. We can’t do an awful lot about that.
“We are a young team and are learning all the time. I can’t fault the lads for effort and commitment.”