Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter calls for calm heads in title run-in

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter believes ‘cool heads’ is the order of the day as the Danske Premiership reaches a crucial stage!

The Shore Road boys benefited from a late two goal surge from Cliftonville in their midweek game against Linfield which meant that Crusaders approach the final 10 league games with a three point lead at the top of the table.

Even without skipper Colin Coates, who was dismissed in last week’s Irish Cup sixth round win over Bangor, Baxter’s troops will be hoping to collect another three points when Barry Gray brings his Warrenpoint Town side to Seaview.

“It’s cool heads that are required at this moment in time,” said Baxter.

“There are some capable teams in this title race. It’s still very, very tight. We are in there and are able to deal with it the same as the other clubs. My job is to make sure the boys are in the best possible shape.”

Gray’s team have their own agenda. They need the points for a different reason, to prise them away from the relegation mire.

“The pressure at the bottom is the same as at the top,” added Baxter, who will be 10 years in charge of the Crues on February 26.

“Everyone knows what is required. We came mighty close to Linfield a few years back in the title race, but I think we are better equipped in terms of numbers and the quality of the squad.

“My 10 years has gone by very quickly and I’ve some great memories , winning the Irish and Setanta Cups. When you take a snapshot of where we are today, it’s a different world.

“The game has moved on incredibly. If you want to compete, you have to be on top of it. I have a good team of people around me. The day I stop enjoying it, I’ll not be doing it.”

Midfielder Declan Caddell misses out tomorrow. He must sit out the second of a three game ban.

Town boss Barry Gray is eager to see his team bounce back following last week’s 5-0 cup drubbing by Linfield.

Gray could be without striker Daniel Hughes, who sustained an ankle injury against the Blues. Also missing are Stephen Moan and Ruairi Devlin.

Hughes, who was on the Blues’ wish list last month, will return to Bolton Wanderers for another trial period next month.

“He had a little niggle on the ankle prior to last week and then he twisted it early on,” said Gray.

“We’ll see how he is. Daniel is due to go back to Bolton, but there are no dates confirmed yet.

“We must show a response after last week’s defeat at Windsor. It was a cup tie, so we can at least confine that result to the bin. It was a disappointing showing, but I don’t mind admitted that our priority always was to stay in the Premier League.

“Our run of form has been good in terms of league games, so we must try to keep that going. Although we’ve lost only one in 10 games, it’s how we react over the next five or so.“We’ve lost wee Stevie Moan, who broke a bone in his foot. Ruairi Devlin has an ankle problem. Conor McDonead, who we signed from Dundalk, missed out last week due to illness.

“They are flexible players for us, they give us options in different areas.”