Baxter: No favours from Crusaders in tight title race

Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter insists his side will be focusing on their own needs when they face title-chasing Linfield tonight 

Danske Bank Premiership: Crusaders v Linfield (tonight, 7.45pm)

CRUSADERS boss Stephen Baxter has declared favour a “swear” word in footballing circles and insists his side will be focused on themselves when they face Linfield tonight amid a pulsating Irish League title race.  

The Blues remain top with the slenderest of leads despite drawing 1-1 with Glentoran on Friday night as Cliftonville failed to capitalise, only managing a goalless draw themselves with Larne on Saturday. 

The Reds’ north Belfast rivals Crusaders host Linfield tonight at Seaview but Baxter has claimed that his side will only be focused on their own agenda. 

“When it comes to this stage of the season you just have to look after yourself,” said Baxter. 

“Favours are never given to anybody in any circumstance. I remember going and trying to win a title myself in a very similar situation to this one so favours within the football world would be a swear word and the answer is that categorically no, we won’t be doing any favours.” 

A 4-0 win for the Crues over Glentoran earlier this month all but ended the Glens hopes of a Gibson Cup and they will be hoping to continue their winning ways with an Irish Cup final against either Newry City or Ballymena to come. 

“We’ve all got our things going on,” declared the Crusaders boss. 

“We have got an Irish Cup to think about, we’ve got fitness levels we have got injuries. We wanted to get a check on the injury front prior to this game so there are so many things that you have to look at and consider and work out for these sorts of games that are coming in quick succession."

Crusaders have won each of their last six matches including their last five in the league while at home they have been victorious in five successive matches and were 2-1 winners when these sides met at Seaview back in November.  

Cliftonville, meanwhile, travel to The Showgrounds to face Coleraine where they haven’t won in six meetings since 2018. 

Baxter knows the managers will be looking at both games as potential banana skins and believes the destiny of the Irish League title is a long way from being decided as the Reds aim to end their eight-year drought and Linfield look to secure their fourth consecutive Gibson Cup. 

“David Healy will know that it’s a tough place to come to and likewise Paddy will be looking at the Coleraine game and thinking the same thing,” said Baxter.  

“Coleraine is always a difficult place to go to so these games are certainly well thought through and well prepared for and having been in the position of both you just have to look after your own team you know.” 

“It’s a great title race and it is a very exciting title race and it will be a good fight to the finish and I think you will definitely see another twist or two let me tell you.” 




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