Threat of axe spurs midfielder Josh on at Crusaders

Josh Robinson battles with Ballinamallard's Mark Stafford
Josh Robinson battles with Ballinamallard's Mark Stafford

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter admitted the threat to axe midfielder Josh Robinson heralded the desired response at Seaview on Saturday.

The former Glasgow Rangers player popped up with two second half goals to earn the Shore Road boys their first Danske Bank Premiership win of the campaign.

Ballinamallard swept into a first half lead through a wonder strike from new boy Johnny Lafferty.

Little Paul Heatley then demonstrated his pedigree with an equally sensational goal to level.

With his manager’s criticism still ringing in his ears, big Robinson took the second half by storm, which earned him the man of the match tag.

“Josh occured my wrath at half-time for not being high enough up the pitch,” said Baxter.

“He was sitting too deep and was causing us problems with his position. I was on the verge of replacing him.

“He took my words on board and on the second half he produced a master-class of how to get into the box and put the ball in the net.

“It was a chalk and cheese performance from him, but overall, you would pay good money to get in to watch the type of football we produced in the second half.

“We upped the gears and played at a great tempo and created four or five good chances. That was the pleasing part of it.

“There is nothing easy in the league. Every team is capable and there will be a battle to be won in every match before you get an opportunity to play football.

“I fully expected that against a Ballinamallard team are well organised and have good players all over the pitch.

“They brought well over the summer – I thought the boy Lafferty caused us problems – he was a handful. So we had to win the war before we could start expressing ourselves on the game.”

After drawing their first team matches, Baxter made five changes to the side – drafting in David Magowan, Gary McCutcheon,Gavin Whyte, skipper Colin Coates and Heatley – the latter two both clear from suspension.

“I thought Heatley and Whyte were very good,” he added.

“They got into the little pockets of space and made things happen. Yes, we had four or five pairs of fresh legs and I thought we were well worth our win.”

Baxter stressed he may be forced do a little wheeling and dealing before transfer window closes at the end of the month after Paul Leeman (broken arm) and Declan Caddell (broken toes) have been ruled four for anything up to two months.

“Our numbers are now stretched,” he added. “I may have to look to see if I can bring another midfielder to the club over the next week or so.”

United manager Whitey Anderson believes there were many positives to take form his team’s performance.

“It’s always difficult when you come to Seaview,” he said.

“I thought we did well in the first half – we had a good shape and held a high line.

“In fairness, they took a stranglehold of the game after the break, we became deep for some reason. When it went to 3-1, it was then beyond us.”