PREMIERSHIP: Jordan Owens' Crusaders goal with Barry Gray keen for strong Cliftonville finish

The goal-scoring feats of league leaders Crusaders have been well documented so far this season.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 20th April 2018, 4:29 am
Updated Friday, 20th April 2018, 5:11 am
Crusaders' Jordan Owens. Pic by INPHO.
Crusaders' Jordan Owens. Pic by INPHO.

The Shore Road men currently lead the way at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table thanks to a superior goal difference, and it could prove vital as the season moves to a close.

They have racked up 103 league goals so far this term with over half of them - 57 in fact - coming from three players.

Gavin Whyte (21), Paul Heatley (19) and Jordan Owens (17) have tortured most teams this season.

Cliftonville manager Barry Gray. Pic by Pacemaker.

Owens was at the double last week as the Crues saw off Linfield at Seaview.

His brace took him on to 20 goals overall for the season, but he was quick to praise his supply line - Billy Joe Burns - who set up both goals against the Blues, which means he has set up eight of the big man’s goals so far this season.

“He’s been doing that all season, maybe I haven’t been scoring enough of them,” joked Owens.

“He’s a quality player, that’s what he has in his locker.

Cliftonville manager Barry Gray. Pic by Pacemaker.

“It’s important I’m in the box trying to get on the end of his crosses to try and score the goals.

“He really does put it on a plate for you.

“It’s important that we are scoring goals because the title could come down to goal difference.

“We just have to look after ourselves and focus on what we are doing.”

With things being so tight at the top it would come as no surprise if players started feeling the jitters.

Owens admitted feeling the nerves slightly before their clash with Linfield especially after drawing the previous two games.

“You maybe feel a wee bit of nerves before the game, but once we got the first goal last Saturday the confidence was flowing throughout the team,” he said.

“It was very important to get back to winning ways again last week, especially as it looks like it is going to go to the wire.

“The boys showed great character against Linfield, we were super from the very first minute.

“We were solid at the back and limited Linfield to few opportunities, which is good because they are a dangerous team.”

Owens know his side will have to be at their best again this Saturday as the welcome neighbours Clifotnville to Seaview.

“Games against Cliftonville always are tough, it’s a north Belfast derby,” he said.

“I’m sure they won’t want us winning the league.

“If we play like we did against Linfield then I can’t see why we can’t go on and win the game.

“It’s going to be another big derby in front of a big crowd here.

“The fans have come out against Linfield and been brilliant, they are the 12th man.

“They will help drive us on and get us over the line so we can hopefully go on and win it.”

The Reds have their own reasons for needing a win to keep their slim hopes of finishing third alive.

Last week’s 3-1 home defeat to Glenavon leaves them trailing the Lurgan Blues by six points with only two games left to play.

As well as playing their derby rivals this weekend Cliftonville also have to play Linfield, who are still in with a shout of finishing third themselves

“It’s still mathematically possible but, being realistic, I don’t think anybody sees it happening now,” said boss Barry Gray.

“We’re six points off it with two games left to play, so we’d need to win both our games and hope that Glenavon and Linfield each lose twice and we’d have to turn the goal difference round too – not impossible, but not probable either.

“I’ve told the players that this result isn’t what’s cost us third place – it’s too many results like this over the course of the season and that lack of consistency we keep talking about.”