It’s vital Crusaders keep Europa League tie alive says Howard Beverland

Howard Beverland  in action against Ludogorets. Credit: Inpho/Stephen Hamilton
Howard Beverland in action against Ludogorets. Credit: Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

Howard Beverland says it is vital Crusaders keep their Europa League second qualifying round tie with Olimpija Ljubljana alive for the second leg.

The Crues take on the Slovenian champions in the away leg tonight still smarting from their 9-0 thumping by Ludogrets in the Champions League qualifiers.

Centre back Beverland knows they cannot afford another first leg like they suffered in Bulgaria after being handed a second chance in Europe.

“Our key objective has to be to keep the tie alive ahead of the return leg next week,” he said.

“We don’t want to find ourselves out of it after the first leg like we did against Ludogrets.

“That was a really tough tie for us, they are an incredibly dangerous team to play against.

“We perhaps contributed to our own downfall, which is a bit frustrating.

“But we took the shackles off for the second leg as we had nothing to lose and I think we earned a bit of credit for that performance.

“We know Ljubljana aren’t at the same level as Ludogrets, but they are champions in their own right and will provide another tough test for us.

“We have to be professional in how we go about our business, keep our shape, be disciplined and take our chance when it comes along.”

The Crues goal scoring options have been reduced with the injury to Jordan Owens, but Beverland believes it gives someone else the opportunity to shine.

“There’s no doubt it’s a blow not to have Jordan available as he is such a threat and a talisman for us,” he said.

“But it also gives someone the opportunity to come in and do the business.

“This is the benefit of having a talented squad, we all have to be ready to step up when called upon.

“We will obviously have to change our style a bit due to Jordan’s absence, but that can work in our favour as I’m sure Ljubljana have worked on facing us with Jordan in the squad.

“We can knock the ball around well, keep possession, and have a lot of pace in the team, which we will have to use.”