Crusaders 1 Donegal Celtic 2 29-8-2011

you missed the target, but broke my heart!

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’!

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Crusaders v Donegal Celtic match preview 29-8-2011

Paddy Kelly brings his oft described ‘pub team’ to Seaview Park on Monday night looking for a shock repeat performance like last season, when Celtic scored twice in in jury time to win 5-4.

Both sides had last-minute disappointments on Friday night and will be looking to get back on track right away.

Several of the squad uninvolved on Friday night, got a run out for the reserves in their penalty shoot out win over Ballymena United Reserves on Saturday, with David Rainey finding the back of the net. Davy Magowan is rumoured to have taken a knock.

Three of the four goals we have conceded this season have come from headers. With players of the calibre of Paul Leeman and Colin Coates in there this should not happen.

At the other end , we just aren’t creating the same amount of chances as we did last season. we either have to sacrifice one of the big men or try to get crosses in from the bye-line. This direct stuff on the tight confines of Seaview just isn’t working.

Whatever the line-up, DC are no-ones pushover as Glentoran and Portadown have already found to their cost. We need to be at the top of our game for 90 minutes and not the sporadic glimpses of brilliance we’ve witnessed so far.

This is a game we’d expect to win. After the last three performances at Seaview, maybe a few doubts are starting to creep in. Here’s hoping Big Stanley has it in hand!

Ref watch 

Ref Alan Black , he of the monogrammed boots takes charge of his 6th game this season. So far he has dished out 20 yellow and 4 red cards . This is his first time refereeing Crusaders or Celtic this season.

Statistics

Topscorers

Player G P
T. Adamson 3 0
C. Coates 2 1
C. Morrow 1 0
J. Owens 1 0
S. Dallas 1 0

Player G P
D. Murray 2 0
J. Harkness 1 0
E. McAllister 1 0
R. Henderson 1 0
Diciplinary
Crusaders
1 yellow :- P Leeman, R McCann, D McMaster, S Dallas, S McBride, T Adamson
Donegal Celtic
3 yellows :- P Bradley
2 yellows :- R Henderson
1 yellow :- S McAlorum, L Bradley , P McVeigh


Young David’s Irish League review 28-8-2011

Young David

Hey, I’ve been let out of the playpen again to have a look at this weekends games.

My Mummy says my Daddy is always calling people by the lengthened form of their names , bar Jack Fullerton! She says it is respectful. I want to follow in his enormous footsteps , but this has caused me problems no end. Is Oran Kearney’s name Orange or Orang-utan ?

I saw my Mummy putting anti-wrinkle cream on yesterday. She says it keeps her looking young and beautiful! 10 minutes later, she was wiping it off again. No wonder my Daddy didn’t hang around. He hates quitters!

This weekends reviews:-

Crusaders 1 Coleraine 1

A few people had their heckle’s up after this stormy encounter. Timothy Adamson gave Crusaders the lead on 59 minutes before David Scullion headed in at the very death as Coleraine threw everything at the Crues , Coins, punches , spittle and even the ball. Coleraine’s celebrations at the end after securing a point has put the PSNI on red alert for when they actually win a match. Leon Knight described Seaview as a dump on Twitter. Goes to show that he must have been concussed when he was angling for that move to the Oval in July. Stephen Baxter said that it would be curtains for Crusaders league aspirations if they keep conceding late goals. Footballing ‘Harry Corry’ , as he described it.

Dungannon Swifts 3 Carrick Rangers 1

It was a whistling Dixie Robinson at Stangmore this week as his Swifts side won their first game of the season. The goalkeepers union was out in force as Christopher Keenan played like Christopher Keenan and took a dive over a Jonathan Topley drive for the Swifts to equalise after Niall Horgan had dropped the ball at Stephen O’Neill’s feet for Carrick to open the scoring. Connor Forker put the swifts ahead before Ryan Deans got in on the charitable acts by putting through his own goal.

Donegal Celtic 2 Ballymena United 3

This was the first Irish League game to be played under 5-a-side rules, with shooting from inside the box  prohibited. Paddy Kelly’s Suffolk Road pub team couldn’t capitalise on last week’s great win at the Oval, while Roy Walker had his prayers answered with Jordan Baker’s batch. Ryan Henderson put DC in front , before Baker used his loaf to make it 1-1. Eamon ‘wee guns’ McAllister rifled DC back in front . Ross Black curled home an equalising free-kick. The icing on the cake came from Baker again as he drove first time into the top corner sending the hundreds and thousands of Ballymena men delirious!

Portadown 1 Glenavon 0

All the Ports boardroom worries were temporarily forgotten as Matthew Tipton fired home from close range . There was delight (not Turkish) on the terraces at this first derby win of the season that will have had the Shamrock park men celebrating with a few pints and a kebab (not Turkish) . Martin Quinn amazingly still in his job will be looking his team to take full responsibility for their actions and won’t be sweeping this defeat under the carpet (Turkish or otherwise).

Lisburn Distillery 1 Cliftonville 2

Jordan Hughes temporarily loosened the wheels on Cliftonville’s season before they bounced backed with a gifted goal for Stephen Garrett , a week too late for Coleraine’s liking and a sublime outside of the foot shot from Rory Donnelly. Lisburn Distillery are still at Ballyskeagh , as Thomas Wright told them to play on!

Linfield 0 Glentoran 1

It’s a whole new world for 11 year olds all around the province this week. Their first taste of Secondary School and a Glentoran league win at Windsor! Linfield fans blame Brian Turkington , despite Ciaran Martyn scoring the goal as the IFA sponsored XI took a break from Global domination to give everyone else a chance. Big David says they deserved a draw and an emergency sitting of the Senior Clubs Committee has been called for Monday night. *Disclaimer* This draw had absolutely nothing to do with Big David’s tactics and The IFA will be looking to improve Linfield’s contract offer immediately!

Goodnight. I’m off to my cot to ponder all the World’s big questions like ‘The hokey cokey’ is that really what it’s all about?

Crusaders 1 Coleraine 1 26-8-2011

If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.Mary Pickford
US (Canadian-born) movie actress (1893 – 1979)

Big Alan was happy, but the whole experience made his hair stand on end!

When you make a bad mistake and are willing to learn from it, we can cast it off as experience building. When you continually make that same mistake and not heed the lesson you’re  foolhardy.

This rope-a-dope tactic employed by Stephen Baxter , where we sit back and continually invite pressure on to our back four has again come back to bite us on the bum.

Crusaders in attacking full flow, are one  of the most admired, most feared teams in the Irish League. When we  put teams on the back-foot they have little answer to our power, pace and industry. The tactic of trying to hold a slender one goal lead by withdrawing our players into a blanket in front of the back four cost us three points against DC last year and Ultimately an Irish Cup Victory at Windsor in May!

Last night was a similar tale. We were second best in the first half , but like the Glentoran game on the first day of the season , we came out of the blocks quicker in the second half and there looked like only one winner.

In one of our rare quality moments, Davy McMaster swung over an inch perfect cross for Timmy Adamson to nod home his third of the season.

Instead of pressing home our advantage , we withdrew to our eighteen yard box and invited Coleraine to try to break us down.

Leeman and Coates ate long ball after long ball into the box , but into the last minute of injury time the pressure paid dividends when a looping David Scullion header finally beat O’Neill and we’d two points lost.

No-one can begrudge Coleraine their point. They certainly deserved it. The team spirit and steely determination, galvanised after last weeks controversial defeat to Lisburn Distillery was there for all to see. Kudos to Oran Kearney for instilling the passion and belief into his side for what has proved to be a tough place to visit.

The unsavoury scenes at the end do neither club any credit. Last minute goals are always met with delight and despair depending on what side of the ground you are standing on.

When unsporting behaviour has been the buzz word all week in the Irish League, it was very poor form for both sets of players and Management to get embroiled in the handbags after the game. It does both clubs a disservice, when two minutes of pushing and shoving takes away from what had been ninety minutes of enthralling football.

The referee wasn’t good, his assistants were worse and the players weren’t helping him either. Some stupid bookings picked up for stupid offences. Get booked for a tackle, not kicking the ball away or pulling your shirt over your head.

Having the game on a Friday night, attracted a bumper gate and added to the atmosphere. It’s maybe something Crusaders should look at doing more often.

There’s been allegations of Sectarian and racial abuse, attempts to spit at  and punch Crusaders players and a coin thrown. I didn’t witness any of it , so can’t comment. However, while I fully understand the euphoria of a late equaliser and the few fans who came on to the pitch to join in with their teams celebrations, Health and Safety will take a dimmer view. Stephen Grange, the IFAs National Security Officer was in attendance last night , as well as the Irish League delegate. It would be a shame if future games between the clubs had restrictions imposed on them.

The big Questions for Monday night v DC are:-

Will Magowan replace McKeown at right back?

Will Dallas start on the left?

Will he continue with the two big men up top with the tight pitch at Seaview ?

If we are going long with the two big men , why persist with wide men ?

There’s more questions than answers!

Crusaders v Coleraine Match preview 26-8-2011

Leon Knight - smaller than a girl!

Oran Kearney brings his Coleraine side to Seaview tonight still looking for a first League win of the season and still smarting from last week’s controversial loss to Lisburn Distillery. I’m sure the Bannsiders will be happy to see Colin Burns standing as 4th official this evening!

Crusaders will be looking to make it three wins on the bounce in this tricky fixture, with the only major doubt from last Saturday’s winning side at Ballymena , being Stuart Dallas and his recurring ankle injury. With less than a week to the ending of the transfer window, I fully expect Stuart to take tonight’s and Monday night’s Sky game against DC by the scruff of the neck to impress any last-minute scouts who might be watching. Motherwell and Burnley have attended in recent weeks , so it’s a wait and see situation!

Tactically , I’d just set the side up as of last week. It worked well. If Dallas doesn’t make it , McMaster is a more than capable replacement.

With Leon Knight no bigger than a Twitter message, Coleraine aren’t going to pump long balls into our box with any degree of success , so it’s important that Morrow and Watson stamp their authority on midfield.

In pre-season we saw enough of Jonny Black to know how dangerous he is from set pieces and long-range shooting. It’s imperative that McMaster/Dallas and McKeown keep him occupied up his own end of the pitch.

We won all three fixtures against Coleraine last season and I see little reason why we can’t take full points tonight.

Bring it on!

Ref Watch

Raymond Hetherington takes charge of his second Crusaders game of the season, having previously been in charge of our away win at Carrick Rangers 2-1 (played at Seaview). So far in his two games in charge , he has issued 9 yellow cards and 1 red card. Last week he was in charge of the controversial game at the Oval where Glentoran fans felt aggrieved at a penalty awarded to DC and a disallowed free-kick for off-side.

Stastistics
Topscorers
Player G P
C. Coates 2 1
T. Adamson 2 0
C. Morrow 1 0
J. Owens 1 0
S. Dallas 1 0

Player G P
C. Allen 1 0
S. Lowry 1 0
L. Knight 1 0

Disciplinary

 Crusaders

Player YC RC
P. Leeman 1 0
R. McCann 1 0

Coleraine

Player YC RC
D. McNulty 0 1
H. Beverland 0 1
D. Ogilby 1 0
J. Black 1 0
S. Lowry 1 0
S. Parkhouse 1 0

Head to Head

Sat 26/03/11 PRE Coleraine 1 – 3 Crusaders
Sat 30/10/10 PRE Crusaders 2 – 0 Coleraine
Sat 21/08/10 PRE Coleraine 0 – 3 Crusaders
Sat 23/01/10 PRE Crusaders 2 – 5 Coleraine
Tue 27/10/09 PRE Coleraine 4 – 1 Crusaders
Tue 25/08/09 PRE Crusaders 1 – 0 Coleraine
Sat 18/04/09 PRE Coleraine 0 – 1 Crusaders
Sat 31/01/09 PRE Crusaders 2 – 1 Coleraine
Sat 22/11/08 PRE Coleraine 2 – 5 Crusaders
Sat 06/09/08 PRE Crusaders 2 – 1 Coleraine