The fact that it has taken me 48 hours to talk about this match speaks volumes. It’s still hurting!
Friday night we created little. We wanted changes and Baxter facilitated them. Problem is , we created the chances , but couldn’t convert them. A 17-3 shot count in our favour and finding ourselves at the end of another home defeat is hard to stomach.
For the first hour it was one way traffic, the centre circle resembled a roundabout with Morrow and Watson reminiscent of traffic wardens redirecting passes towards DC’s eighteen yard box. Then on that hour mark they seemed to run out of steam and once McAlorum found the net with his stunning drive, I could see the self belief not only of our players , but also our fans, drain in front of my eyes. We lost all cohesion, stopped passing the ball and started coming off second best in all challenges for the ball.
Crusaders under Baxter has always had leaders all over the park. For that last thirty minutes on Monday night, the good ship Crusaders was sailing adrift and soon found itself run aground when ‘Maxi’ McVeigh pirated the treasure of three points with yet another late goal against at Seaview!
Locking the players away for 40 minutes is all well and good, but unless it’s going to improve fitness and form then what use is it. You can talk until your blue in the face, but if players are playing with niggles , like Dallas, or running on an empty tank like Morrow was for a good 25 minutes before being replaced by Snoddy, then what’s the point. An extra 40 minutes training on Thursday night might have been more beneficial.
When you create 17 chances, you can’t really blame the tactics, but as Stephen Baxter has said himself, this is the best squad he has assembled in six years . Expectation levels are now higher than ever, so is his wage budget. Pressure is starting to mount, can we handle it!
On another note, fair play to DC . Crusaders outclassed them for large chunks of the game, but they dug in there and in the end, the heroics of ‘Goose’ Robinson saw them heading westwards with a very valuable three points. As they say, ‘If Carlsberg did pub teams’!