Crusaders look to get back on track at Newry City AFC

Ex-Derry City player Rory Hale pictured at Seaview after signing a 2.5 year deal with the Shore road club which will start in January
Ex-Derry City player Rory Hale pictured at Seaview after signing a 2.5 year deal with the Shore road club which will start in January

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter will be hoping his side do not repeat last weekend’s performance as they travel to Newry City in the Danske Bank Premiership this weekend.

The Crues were shadow of the side that lifted the Gibson Cup the year before as they lost 3-0 to Ballymena United after putting in a toothless and spiritless display against the Sky Blues.

And this season’s league table will not make easy reading for Baxter as his side have lost six of their opening 13 matches while winning six and drawing one.

Yes they were missing Paul Heatley, Colin Coates and Billy Joe Burns for last weekend’s defeat to David Jeffrey’s side but Baxter - who locked his team in the dressing room after the Showgrounds defeat - will be hoping for a much better display from his side.

“We weren’t sharp enough against Ballymena and didn’t deserve to get anything from the game.

“There are certain games this year you can pin-point that you are pleased with and there are other games you are not pleased with.

“You can put it down to lots of things but we have got to get back on the horse, back training and back playing.

“You have to get ready for the next game and play what is in front of you and get on with it.

“It is what it is and it is something we have not been used to for quite some time but you can’t have it your own way all of the time.”

And Baxter knows his side will have to lick their wounds and put on a performance against Newry tonight.

“Anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows the standard I set. I set the bar high and I want us to hit that bar every time.

“Against Ballymena we did not hit those heights but there are a number of reasons behind it and we are not going to slaughter people because of it.

“We ask people to give us what you have and against Ballymena they did not hit that standard.

“We will go to Newry and give of our best. The game against Ballymena got away from us so we will be looking for a response against Newry.

“But Newry are a good side and they are well organised. They have a good manager and they have great team spirit and belief. It will be tough but we will go there looking to get something from the game,” added Baxter.

Newry manager Darren Mullen is hoping his side can celebrate their 100-year anniversary by getting a result against the defending league champions.

“It would be good to get a positive result and that is what we will be looking to do.

“Crusades are the defending champions and they are a very good side.

“And their manager Stephen Baxter will be looking for a reaction from them after their 3-0 defeat to Ballymena United last weekend.

“We need a win but I think we deserves a wee bit more recently than we have got.

“The boys have been playing well and creating chances - but we maybe lack a wee bit of a cutting edge at the minute.

“The lads are working hard and the performances have been good and I thought we did well against Glenavon last weekend.

“But we have to start winning games as we are in the relegation battle at the minute.

“I still believe we can move up the table and at the minute we are down to the bare bones and we could have up to 12 players doubtful for the game.

“We were missing a few for the League Cup game against Portadown and four more hurt themselves in that game. We will see who is available for Friday.”