Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter never doubted star asset Paul Heatley after slow start to the season

Paul Heatley bagged four goals in one half against Carrick last week
Paul Heatley bagged four goals in one half against Carrick last week

Stephen Baxter always knew it wouldn’t be long before Paul Heatley “clicked into life” this season.

Heatley showcased his brilliance with a sensational four-goal salvo against Carrick Rangers last week.

The 28-year-old doubled his tally for the season in one blistering half of football, and even set up Andy Mitchell for a fifth goal as the champions ran riot against Gary Haveron’s newly-promoted side.

Heatley himself concedes he has had a slow start to the season, but boss Baxter never doubted his star asset.

“Paul has had a slow start to the season. He would admit he hasn’t been playing to the level he achieved last season. But I always knew he would click into life at some stage,” Baxter said.

“He has so much quality and pace about him, and when he plays like he did today I wouldn’t like to be marking him.

“He was sensational last week, and everything he struck hit the net and he had a couple of other big chances.

“That will be pleasing for him after what happened against Coleraine when he was sent off. He picked himself up and put in a big display.”

Heatley also believes he is slowing clicking into gear – an ominous statement to the rest of the Premiership.

“Maybe I haven’t been firing on all cylinders,” Heatley said.

“But we are only nine games down in the Premiership and it is very early days.

“We are still finding our feet this season, but when we do hit form we will be hard to beat.

“Everyone from one to 11 is stepping up to the plate. It is about a team performance and everyone was outstanding.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s trip to Ballymena United, Crues boss Baxter added: “Ballymena have picked up well and have some good form. They are on a wee run and will be buoyed.

“But we are on a good run ourselves. We lost on the opening day and we haven’t looked back since. We just have to keep building that momentum.”