IRISH LEAGUE: Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter refusing to get carried away with stellar start

Crusaders captain Colin Coates is available after suspension
Crusaders captain Colin Coates is available after suspension

Crusaders have started the defence of their title in exquisite fashion – but Stephen Baxter insists it is “far too early” to be handing out lavish praise.

The Crues opened their account with a 6-0 hammering of Ballymena United last Saturday.

They followed that up with another facile success on Wednesday night as they eased to a 4-1 win against Carrick Rangers.

The champions have thrown down the gauntlet to their rivals with two dominant performances.

Next up is a massive Premiership showdown with one of their chief heirs to the throne.

Linfield arrive at Seaview on Saturday afternoon on the back of an opening day win against Ballinamallard United, and Wednesday’s late draw against Coleraine.

“Saturday is another big game. In many ways it gives you a marker. We will get a look at Linfield, and they will get a look at us,” Baxter said.

“It will be a tough game of football – it always is. But it is very early in the season and we will play them three times further in the league after Saturday. So nothing will be won or lost this weekend.”

Reflecting on his side’s stellar start to the season, Baxter said: “Wednesday was another professional performance. When you score four goals away from home you have to be pleased.

“I am actually quite disappointed we conceded the goal against Carrick.

“But we attacked from the off and created chances, and our players are still building up fitness and match sharpness. So there is more to come.

“I have to be pleased with two smart wins at the start of the season. We will take it.

“We have goals in the team, so we have to play to our strengths. You have to do what you think you can do.

“We won’t get it all our own way all the time, so we have to be wise with team selection, but that is something we will deal with week to week.

“All together, two games and a few goals under our belt, we have to be pleased with that.”

Howard Beverland and Michael Gault have impressed in the heart of Crusaders’ defence over the opening two games.

But with talismanic captain Colin Coates available following suspension, Baxter admits he has a selection headache to contend with.

“Howard and Michael have given us plenty to think about because they have performed so well,” the Crues boss added.

“I am getting a bigger selection headache with every season, but it is a nice headache to have.”