Title holders Crusaders primed for Oval encounter against Glentoran

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter admits he knows what a crafty old fox Roy Coyle is, so he preparing for one of his toughest tests so far in Saturday's Danske Premiership clash with Glentoran at the Oval.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 15th September 2016, 11:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:45 pm
Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter

The East Belfast club may be in a state of turmoil at present, with veteran Director of Football Coyle, stepping in to fill the void left by Alan Kernaghan, who walked away following an embarrassing League Cup defeat by little Annagh United, but there were signs of recovery in midweek.

Stephen Gordon’s last minute strike earned the Glens a battling 2-2 draw with Gary Hamilton’s Glenavon - and also a standing ovation from the fans on the way off the pitch.

They know that Coyle has the ability to stop the free-fall that has existed since Kernaghan’s reign - until a new boss is finally appointed.

“I watched the game in midweek and there was a real battling spirit about Glentoran,” said Baxter. “Regardless of how the team are performing, you never get it easy at the Oval.”

The Crues will again be without David Cushley, who was handed a three game ban following his dismissal at Ards.

Baxter adds: “The incident was hardly worth a three match suspension, but we’ll get on with it. We’ll be along similar lines to the squad that turned out against Dungannon last week.

“I was really happy with our performance in spite of the fact that we didn’t put the game to bed until the final 12 minutes or so. We gifted them the lead, but we dominated the entire 90 minutes -- we had lost of possession and Paul Heatley does what he does best with two super finishes.”

Coyle, meanwhile, was happy with the battling spirit displayed against the Lurgan Blues.

“I was delighted with the performance - I got a reaction after Saturday,” said Coyle, who will again be without Curtis Allen - he is out with a mouth abscess.

“The display in the previous match against Ards was unacceptable . . . there was no fight, no passion and simply no positives from that match,” he added.

“The players certainly showed a bit of character against Glenavon, especially scoring in the last few minutes . . . they didn’t let their heads drop.

“It’s only one game. We now have to carry it into Saturday’s match with Crusaders. The fans applauded the team off at the finish, so that tells me they were happy at what they witnessed, in terms of the fighting spirit and work-rate.

“I’ve enjoyed working with the boys . . . and I got a reaction from them ,but I don’t mind admitting I hope the new boss is installed sooner rather than later.”