Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter knows what to expect from Glentoran

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter will be taking nothing for granted when his side travel to the Oval to face Glentoran in the Danske Bank Premiership this weekend.

The Crues seem to be back on form after a sluggish start to the season and they sealed their place in the final of the Toals County Antrim Shield on Tuesday night after a 1-0 success against Larne - while the Glens are the opposite as they started the season well before falling away in recent weeks.

But Baxter has been too long in the game to expect an easy afternoon in east Belfast.

“We have done well over there in our last few meetings but you have got to be on the money when you go over there.

“In every single game you have got to be up for it and pushing it all the time and play well.

“We will go over there and it will be a big challenge - it always is - as Glentoran are a good side and they will be looking for the form they had the start of the year.

“It will click back in for them and they have far too many good players for it not to.

“And they will get results sooner rather than later and they are losing by the odd goal. If you look at all their results of late they are losing by the odd goal.

“And they got a draw against Coleraine recently. They are a good side and Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey was saying they were on the cusp of beating them.

“We take nothing for granted and this will be real tough game for us, but it will be the same for all the teams.

“You could be playing Warrenpoint, Newry or Institute and it is very difficult. You can take nothing for granted in this game.

“It is the best league I have been involved in for a while and I am enjoying it even though we have lost a few games and it is exciting to see other teams doing well.

“We are all enjoying it because it adds a wee bit of the shock factor to the whole thing,” added Baxter.

And Glentoran assistant manager Gary Smyth knows his side will have to be at their best if they want to get something from the game and turn around their run of poor results.

“All the matches at the minute are tough. And we are not doing ourselves any favours at the minute and we maybe need to be a wee bit more mentally tough. We have been playing fine and sometimes we have been playing really well - but last Saturday was probable our lowest point. Not because we lost to Dungannon - it was our performance was very poor and it has been a difficult time for us - result wise - the last few weeks.

“It has been very disappointing because there were a few of those games we could have won,” said Smyth.

And Smyth believes the sooner they get back to winning ways the better.

“We have lots of bad luck stories and maybe feeling sorry for ourselves after a few decisions but at the end of the day we are the ones that have to change that and we will.”

And Smyth says they will be glad to get John McGuigan back but Conor Pepper is out suspended.

“Pepper is out for two due to suspension. He will be a loss because we have been playing him out right recently but we think he looks better playing in the centre of midfield - but we will not be worrying about that for a couple of weeks.

“McGuigan is back after a seven week ban so that is some light at the end of the tunnel.

“He will take a while to get back up to pace but he played for the Under-20’s on Tuesday and it seems he did well.

“So we are thankful that he is on the way back.”