Experience over emotion on semi-final stage for Crusaders’ Stephen Baxter

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter wants a measured approach by his players heading into today’s high-stakes Irish Cup semi-final.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 6:00 am

The Crues tackle Larne at Mourneview Park in the opening tussle of a two-game last-four programme.

Linfield and Ballymena United will walk out later today aware of which side the winner will face on Friday on a return to Lurgan for the main event.

Baxter is relishing the occasion and embracing the showpiece stage but keen for Crusaders to draw on experience over emotion.

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Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

“The Irish Cup always carries that romance and the anticipation of a day out at the final,” said Baxter. “Semi-finals are difficult encounters though, you have to work it out to get there.

“You can be so near but yet so far, so I don’t get too excited by it.

“You can’t over-egg it or build it up too much as there is a job to be done.

“There’s a lot of tactical work to be done about how we’re going to play, assess who is going to play and get things right as best as we can, and go and give it our best shot.

“You don’t want to have any regrets coming off the pitch.

“If you lose on the day you congratulate the other team and wish them all the best.

“I’ve lost my fair share of semi-finals when I was a player, I think it was 10 in all.

“That’s football and you always come back fighting for another day.

“I’ve been on the other end of it when we’ve won semi-finals and big trophies and it’s amazing.

“They are a top team with top,top players...they are well-organised and well-prepared tactically.

“They have had the better of it against us this season, beating us three times to our one victory.

“There’s no surprise element, it’s on the night, who gets the break of the ball.

“There’s not a lot separating the top teams.”

Kick-off times in the Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup semi-finals are as follows: Crusaders v Larne (4pm) and Ballymena United v Linfield (8pm).


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