Defender Craig McClean hopes Crusaders can ‘keep it clean’ as they target another title

Crusaders defender Craig McClean (right) clears from Guy Bates last week
Crusaders defender Craig McClean (right) clears from Guy Bates last week

Defender Craig McClean believes clean sheets could prove just as vital as goals as Crusaders target back-to-back titles.

The Crues eased to within two points of leaders Linfield with a commanding 3-0 victory over the Blues last Saturday.

It was the third Premiership game on the bounce that Stephen Baxter’s men hadn’t conceded.

And with talisman Jordan Owens already bagging eight Premiership goals this season, the Shore Road side’s title defence is starting to kick into gear.

And McClean hopes Crusaders can continue on an upward curve when they travel to the north west on Saturday to face Coleraine.

“We conceded too many goals during the first couple weeks of the season, but we have tightened up now. I think we have conceded one goal in our last five league games, and that is important.

“If we don’t concede, then I am confident we will score and that means we will win more games.

“We have given ourselves a platform by keeping it tight at the back.

“Linfield had one shot on target against us, which is obviously pleasing.

“Now we prepare for Coleraine which will be a tricky test for us. We have to kick-on and try and pick up as many points as we can.”

McClean believes last week’s win over Linfield was crucial as the champions looked to rein in the Blues at the top of the table.

“It was an important game. If Linfield had won they would have gone eight points clear. So we were under no illusions,” he added.

“To claw the gap back to two points was pleasing, but we won’t be getting carried away. At the end of the day it is just one win in the season.

“Beating anyone in this league is pleasing, not just Linfield.

“We have to push on now and focus on Saturday’s trip to Coleraine. We have won five games in a row and we want to motor on now.

“We have to try and get more consistency – that’s what wins you the league.”