Stephen Baxter waxes lyrical as Crusaders ease to win over Ards

Ards defender David Armstrong slides in on Paul Heatley
Ards defender David Armstrong slides in on Paul Heatley

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter waxed lyrical about his team’s performance as they coasted past basement club Ards.

The Crues won 4-1 despite Ards taking the lead inside the first minute.

The result means Niall Currie’s side are now eight points adrift with just five games remaining this season.

Baxter said: “I don’t want to be cruel, but we missed three or four sitters in the first half and we could have won by a lot more.

“Ards started brightly, but once we got our noses in front we ran away with it. It was exhibition football in the second half. The last 20 minutes were sublime. That’s the level of football we are capable of. Alan Blayney made two or three wonder saves to keep it respectable.”

Crusaders can now look forward to playing Glentoran tomorrow night in the last game before the split.

Baxter added: “Colin Coates isn’t fully fit but we felt he needed 90 minutes under his belt before Tuesday’s game against Glentoran, while Timmy Adamson played for the reserves.

“We’ve got players coming back at just the right time, with the two big league games against Glentoran and Portadown this week and the massive Irish Cup semi-final in a fortnight.

“There is a lot of prepation going on behind the scenes as we want to have a full panel at our disposal for the last few weeks of the season.

“Gary McCutcheon was magnificent today, which was great to see. There is a lot of talk about the Irish Cup but we want this third place spot in the league. We’ve four home games in the last six, and we are pretty polished at Seaview, so we’re confident going forward.”

Ards opened the scoring a mere 57 seconds into the game when Ross Arthurs scored against his old team.

Crusaders equalised 11 minutes later when Eamon McAllister’s volleyed home from 10 yards.

It was no surprise when the Crues took the lead in 24th minute.

McCutcheon played the ball in from the left, which allowed Jordan Owens to half-volley the ball into the net from the edge of the six yard box.

Crusaders wrapped up the points in the 58th minute when McCutcheon fired the ball high into Blayney’s net.

The fourth goal arrived in the 76th minute minute when Mark Burns the ball into his own net after good work down the right by Eamon McAllister.

Ards boss Niall Currie said: “That reminded my of the ball old days. I’m far from happy with this performance.

“I thought we started brightly and took the lead, but then we concede four sloppy goals.

“It was infuriating to watch.”