IRISH LEAGUE: Crusaders big guns return for Ards encounter

Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter will reinstate all of his ‘big guns’ for Saturday’s Danske Premiership clash with Ards at Seaview..

The Shore Road boys fell to a rare defeat, albeit after extra-time and a sudden-death penalty shoot-out, at Coleraine in the League quarter finals in midweek..

Baxter made a staggering 10 changes to the team that defeated Portadown last weekend, again handing a starting slot to a number of his Under-20 squad, that have performed so well in certain games of late.

However, it will be business usual when Niall Currie brings his Ards side to north Belfast.

“It’s important to utilise the squad . . . the games are coming thick and fast,” said Baxter. “We are playing midweek matches now practically every week, so you have to freshen things up."

Baxter, however, was thrilled his this team’s efforts at the Showgrounds.

“It’s a lottery when it goes to a penalty shootout,” he added.

“Young Jack Smith got us back into the game when he levelled in the second period of extra time -- he'll remember that for a long time. I couldn’t have asked for any more from the boys.”

Baxter admits he'll expect no favours from Niall Currie's battlers, adding: “Ards are a very capable side. I say it every week, there are no easy games in this league. But we have our own agenda . . . we'll let the opposition worry about us."