IRISH LEAGUE: Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter sure Mallards will pose a threat

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter will not let his players rest on their laurels when they take on Ballinamallard United in the Danske Bank Premiership on Friday evening (7:45pm).

The Crues were in majestic form during the week as they saw off last season’s treble winners Linfield 5-2 at the International Stadium at Windsor Park.

It was a night of great highs for the Shore Road outfit but Baxter insists his players are full focused on the threat that Ballinamallard will bring this evening.

“They haven’t had a great start but they beat Carrick Rangers last weekend - who had been going well - and that will give them confidence and put wind in their sails.

“They have some good players and we have identified them to our players and they will have to be watched.

“This is our bread and butter and we are now back to reality after beating Linfield, being on Sky Sports and playing at the National Stadium.

“It was a good performance but we have prepared this week as we always do and we expect a tough game against Ballinamallard,” he said.

And Baxter says his side will have to sort out their home form if they are to do anything this season.

“We have been better away from home than we have been at Seaview.

“Our aim is to start picking up results at Seaview and getting some rhythm in our game and results.

“Results at home have been mixed so far so we will be looking to fix that in the coming games.

“But this league has had some shock results this season. All the teams in the division are very capable, they are all well organised and they have all been prepared very well.

“It is good for Irish league football and the league is in a good place at the minute.”

And Ballinamallard United manager Gavin Dykes was delighted that his side got their first league win of the season last weekend against Carrick Rangers.

“I was gutted last week and went away for a few days, but there was a great response today.

“The first half I thought we played some fantastic football and the second half I was even happier with because we defended really well and did everything the right way.

“Carrick are difficult to play against and it was nice to get a win. But it’s gone now and we have to move on.

“We were on a bad run and things hadn’t been going our way.

“Against Carrick I thought we were good all over the park. Matthew Smyth is a smashing player and can play at a high level, people forget that he’s still only a kid and I’m thrilled for him.

“Jonathan Leddy is smashing on the ball and I’m thrilled for him to be on the scoreline.

“But, look, it’s only three points and we have to move on. We’ve played well in the last couple of games but Crusaders are a good side and we will have to put on another performance.”