Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter admits Linfield are in the ‘box seat’ as the Premiership enters the New Year, but warns their six point lead can be quickly wiped away.
Baxter’s team lost vital ground following their last gasp Boxing Day draw against rivals Cliftonville, who now lie in second spot. Skipper Colin Coates struck with the last kick to salvage a point after Liam Boyce had netted from the spot for the Reds.
Although the Crues are seven points adrift, Baxter is confident his boys can claw their way back, but stresses it’s crucial they pick up three points from Wednesday’s blockbuster against Portadown at Shamrock Park.
“Linfield are setting the pace. It’s nice to be top going into the New Year,” said Baxter. “But David Jeffrey is a wise old fox. He will know there is nothing won at this moment in time.
“But they are in the right area and they’ll be pleased at the outcome of the North Belfast derby.
“However, there are plenty of big games of football on the horizon. We have to try to get our guys fresh and ready for the challenges up ahead.
“We’ve picked up only two points from our last three games and now we face a really difficult game at Portadown.
“It’s a very, very tough venue, so we must be properly prepared for what will be a testing 90 minutes. People will look at other results, but we can only focus on what we have to do and that’s to play a game of football and hope your best is good enough.”