JORDAN Owens has urged Crusaders to build on Saturday’s Danske Bank Premiership victory over Glentoran.
Owens bagged a classy brace as the Crues sealed a 2-0 win at Seaview.
It saw the Glens fall to their first league defeat of the season – five days after their County Antrim Shield exit to Linfield.
Next up for Crusaders is a titanic derby tussle with league leaders Cliftonville.
And Owens – who bagged his first goals of the campaign on Saturday – victory against the Reds is paramount.
“We have Cliftonville next week which is another massive game for us and one we need to win,” he said.
“If we win that then we will narrow the gap to four points, so victory is paramount.
“We have had a couple of poor results this season which have stalled our progress.
“We have dropped silly points, but we proved today what we are capable of.
“We have to take this win into next week and push on.
“It is still early days and everyone is beating everyone else. Linfield are beatable this season so it will be tight all year.”
Owens shrugged off what has been a frustrating season to date by helping the Crues to their fifth win of the season.
He latched onto Aidan Watson’s through ball in the seventh minute before unleashing an unstoppable 25-yard volley past Elliott Morris.
The rangey striker was at it again in the 35th minute as he made it 2-0.
Gareth McKeown’s long throw reached Gary McCutcheon at the back post, and when the Scottish hitman fired a shot across goal there was Owens to tap home.
Glentoran went close to reducing the arrears when Sean Ward hit the outside of the post with a left-foot shot in the 62nd minute, while Sean O’Neill expertly denied Colin Nixon with a flying save four minutes later.
Owens almost completed his hat-trick late on but his header was well saved by Morris.
“I am delighted. They are my first goals of the season so it is a relief to get up and running,” Owens added.
“I worked hard in training all week and Stephen (Baxter) gave me a chance to prove what I can do and thankfully I did that today.
“It has been a frustrating season for me, but I have been training hard and trying to take it into games.
“People have been on my back saying I am not finishing chances, but maybe today I have answered a few of them. Hopefully that is me in the team.
“They were two contrasting goals, but I will take them whatever way they come. They are all good goals when you score, and hopefully there are more to come this season.
“There is a lot of competition up front.”
Crues boss Baxter heaped praise on Owens for his contribution on Saturday.
“Jordan came back this year and he wasn’t finding the back of the net. But he had that look about him this week and I fancied him to score today. If he gets in the right area he will score you goals,” Baxter said.
“He was maybe a yard off it mentally recently, but he was clever today and that was more like the Jordan of two years ago.”
Glens boss Eddie Patterson vented his frustration at the final whistle, and promised changes for tomorrow’s IRN-BRU League Cup clash with Institute.
“Today was too disjointed. It was probably the worst defensive display of the season from us,” he said.
“We said to the lads, if you have the shirt then it is up to you to hold onto it. Today, a few players handed that shirt back to me. So changes will be made against Institute on Tuesday night.”