STEPHEN Baxter admits he will be wary of “the scalded cat” when Crusaders travel to the Ballymena Showgrounds tonight.
The Sky Blues suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat to basement club Donegal Celtic at the weekend, a result that saw manager Roy Walker contemplate his future on Warden Street.
Despite that set-back, Crues boss Baxter is preparing for a “testing night” against United.
“Ballymena went on a particularly good run and then all of a sudden they have stepped off the gas,” he said.
“They had one or two players who left the club in January, and coupled with injuries and suspensions that can disrupt things a little bit.
“But Roy Walker is the master craftsman of management, and we have to be aware of the scalded cat on Tuesday night.
“They will be looking for a huge response to their defeat on Saturday, so they will be hurting and hungry to put things right.
“They are a good team as well, with quality players, so they can beat anyone on their day.”
Baxter admits Crusaders have struggled to find league points at the Showgrounds in recent seasons – a trend he hopes to reverse tonight.
“We have come unstuck at the Showgrounds in the last two or three seasons,” he said.
“We have done well in the cup competitions, but the league is a different story. We got a draw in the snow blizzard earlier in the season, and it has never been a happy hunting ground for us in the league.
“But we are confident of doing well, and confidence can be a great thing in football.”
Crusaders earned a late win against Portadown on Saturday to extend their unbeaten league run to six games.
It also saw the Shore Road men draw to within six points lf league leaders Linfield.
“For me the title is still Linfield’s, they are in the box seat,” Baxter added.
“I said that a number of weeks ago and Saturday’s results haven’t changed my mind one bit.
“So we just focus on ourselves and try to pick up as many points as possible.”