Focused Stephen Baxter insists Crusaders are ready to ‘go for gold’ in title race

Stephen Baxter receives his award from Clare O'Neill of BT Sport and Stephen Looney of the NIFWA
Stephen Baxter receives his award from Clare O'Neill of BT Sport and Stephen Looney of the NIFWA

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter admits his team are primed to “go for gold” as the Premiership title race approaches a crucial stage.

The Shore Road boys, six points clear at the top of the table with eight games remaining, entertain basement boys Institute at Seaview on Saturday knowing that another three points would edged them closer to the finish line.

It’s been 18 years since the North Belfast team had their hands on the Gibson Cup, but that could be about to change.

Baxter, who has been named the BT Sport Manager of the Month for February by the NI Football Writers’ Association, will not be caught up mind games, with certain people suggesting the title is theirs to lose.

“If there is pressure I don’t see it,” he claimed.

“When you are on the back of a lot of victories, there is a feel good factor about the place. The players are training with smiles on their faces. Sometimes I’ve got to hold them back a little bit.

“Jeff Spiers and I have played in championship winning teams down the years and we know what it’s all about. It’s a matter of trying to plot it all out.

“I certainly don’t feel any pressure. I’m always pushing them to do better in terms of their playing ability. I’ll certainly not let them get carried away on the hype of what may or may not be.

“I know if we lose out next two games, which can happen very quickly, and Linfield win theirs, we are all square again. Then there are six games to go and it’s anybodies (title).

“I don’t think six points is a great lead with eight games to play. And, I don’t buy into people saying Crusaders should no go on to do this or do that. I heard Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho say recently that teams eight or nine points behind are still in the mix.”