Jordan Owens believes Crusaders showed the sign of champions with last week’s gutsy win over Glentoran.
The Crues came from two goals down to ease to a 4-2 victory against the east Belfast men.
What looked like being a sticky afternoon on the Shore Road turned into a commanding performance from Stephen Baxter’s side.
It saw Crusaders extend their lead at the top of the Premiership to eight points – and remain firmly on course for back-to-back titles in 2016.
“We showed great character to come from 2-0 down and win the game,” said Owens.
“We started slowly, but regrouped and fought back. I think we showed the character we have and a number of players really stepped up – Billy Joe Burns and Michael Carvill were outstanding. We have quality, but also the desire to retain the title.
“There’s a good attitude around the team and a great work rate. Sometimes you look back on a season and it’s days like last Saturday that win you titles. It was a big three points in the circumstances and it was good to get back to winning ways.
“We had a frustrating Christmas in the league – Cliftonville drew at our place and Linfield beat us. We’ve had a tough run of fixtures, but we know we need to kick on now.”
Crusaders travel to Portadown on Saturday afternoon where they will hope to strengthen their grip on the title race.
“It’s a tough pitch and always a challenge down there. It’ll be difficult, but we’ll go with a shape and game plan and see how we get on,” Owens, who recently became Crusaders’ all-time record goalscorer, added.
“It’ll be another test and we also have Coleraine next weekend, so it doesn’t get any easier. They are two big games.”