Despite falling to their 11th successive defeat in the league, Warrenpoint Town manager Barry Gray was positive about a much improved performance from his side who had plenty of chances to get a result.
The Crues raced into a 2-0 first half lead with Paul Heatley’s penalty and a well worked move finished off by Jordan Forsythe.
When Forsythe made it three on 66 minutes, the tie was essentially over but Daniel Hughes pulled one back with a clever free-kick and they did have other chances to come back.
“You come away on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline and you think did we deserve that,” said Gray.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to come off the field and say that. For the penalty Mark Hughes is adamant that he didn’t touch him, but it’s a gift at that stage of the game.
“The second goal you have to give them credit for. They cut us open and worked it well. If we could have scored our goal before they score their third, it changes the game but we kept at it. In the second half, there’s always the fear that you sit back and keep the scoreline respectable.
“We’ve put them out in a shape and a system in the last two games that we feel suits them and they work hard within it. There are huge positives to take. Daniel’s goal was classy and he went one on one with the keeper, Conor McDonald went one on one with the keeper and he pulled off another great save in the second half and you think, we’ve probably created more chances in 45 minutes of football than we have in the last month. That’s good against a team like Crusaders because they are top of the league for a reason.
“We got a win on Wednesday night, a performance today and our boys are coming away from this match thinking ‘we could have got something from that’. If we had clawed a draw out of it, I don’t think anyone would have been too harsh on us.”
Stephen Baxter was happy with his side’s character as they stayed five points clear at the top of the table.
“To be fair to Warrenpoint, they threw everything they had at us. We got the next goal and the game should have been out of sight but they kept knocking a long ball to willing forwards who were running off it and I thought they put up a good show. They worked very hard all over the park so we’re pleased coming here getting a good three points,” he said.
“For us, it’s about picking up points on the road. How we get them sometimes doesn’t really bother me. I’ve praised our forwards for all the fabulous goals they’ve got over the last three months but today I thought our back four stood very tall.
“I thought Colin Coates and David Magowan were superb putting their head on things and dealing with a lively attack. These are the results you have to dig out sometimes and we did it well. We felt comfortable at three goals to the good and then they got a nice goal with the free-kick but other than that, while they were pumping balls on top of us, they didn’t open us up at any stage of the game.
“Today we did what we had to do. Our second goal was absolutely clinical. It was a wonderful move with a lovely whipped ball in from Carvill and Forsythe in at the back post to score. That pleased me, the quality of some of our passing to open a team up and we did that on a couple of occasions.”