Crusaders: Numbers game adds up for Stephen Baxter ahead of Ards trip

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter. Pic by Pacemaker.
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter. Pic by Pacemaker.
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Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter will continue the club’s juggling act towards maintaining March momentum with a weekend win.

The Crues’ strength-in-depth has been utilised extensively in recent fixtures by Baxter in a bid to protect his players from the demands of fixtures on multiple fronts.

Ards manager Warren Feeney. Pic by Pacemaker.

Ards manager Warren Feeney. Pic by Pacemaker.

That selection policy has led to four wins this month across three competitions.

“I made six changes to the starting 11 over the past two games due to the amount of work put in by those lads,” said Baxter. “I brought lads in who had not played a lot of football who needed to do the hard miles on the heavy pitch.

“In a game you don’t think about other results, the only thing I’m interested in is a team performance which pleases me.

“I don’t get caught up in if we finish second - if we win enough football matches we will, if we don’t we won’t.

“We have to gauge the injuries and suspensions and tired legs about the amount of games this time of year.

“It’s important we can balance the squad we have around our games.

“Ards are competing at the bottom for points so that’s another tough game.”

Ards manager Warren Feeney, by comparison, is operating with significantly reduced resources but enters the meeting against the defending Danske Bank Premiership champions encouraged by a bright response since his recent arrival as manager.

“It is a free game for us as no-one outside the club expects a victory,” said Feeney. “We may win and lose over the rest of the games so it’s about not getting too down-hearted at any point, with the boys giving me everything so far.

“My aim since coming in was to stay in the play-off spot.”