Irish Premiership: Crusaders manager Baxter primed for final title run-in

Stephen Lowry and Ciaron Harkin
Stephen Lowry in action against Ciaron Harkin as Linfield beat Coleraine 2-1 at Windsor Park in November

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter says his side and Premiership title rivals Coleraine deserve great credit for the efforts they have put in this season.

The Crues lead the Bannsiders on goal difference with two sets of games left. Crusaders are at home to Cliftonville on Saturday, and Coleraine at Linfield.

"You can only play the game in front of you and control what you do. We've just got to keep working hard," said Baxter.

"Fair play to Coleraine - they're digging out results week in, week out."

Baxter added: "They are a top, top team with great resilience, great defensive qualities and boys who can score goals.

"They have hung in there all season and it will be a run for the line. We're still in the battle, as are Coleraine, so we'll see where it takes us."

Coleraine will have Josh Carson suspended after being sent-off late in last week's 1-0 win over Ballymena United.

The Ballycastle Road club suffered their only defeat of the league campaign to date against Linfield, a 2-1 reverse at the hands of the champions at Windsor Park in November.

"There's so much you can say to players to help them and give them confidence and everything else but there's also lots you can't say that just comes from results and performances and how things have gone," said Coleraine boss Oran Kearney.

"The way my boys have gone about their business all season long has been outstanding."

Glenavon host Ballymena United in Saturday's other Section A fixture as the Lurgan Blues continue their bid for the third place which may guarantee them a Europa League berth.

Carrick Rangers dropped to bottom spot in the table after losing to Ballinamallard United on Tuesday night and now trail the Fermanagh club by two points as they prepare to face Glentoran at the Oval.

"We need two wins to try and give us a chance of staying up and we'll do everything in our power to make that happen," said Carrick manager David McAlinden.

"We must try to make Ballinamallard work as hard as we can for their points."

The Mallards face a trip to Ards, with boss Harry McConkey pleased that his side are off the basement position that they have occupied for much of the campaign.

"We've had Carrick in our sights for so long now - it's nice to be on the other side of them now and now they have got to chase us," said McConkey.

Dungannon Swifts play Warrenpoint Town at Milltown.

Danske Bank Premiership - Saturday 21 April - 15:00 BST kick-offs
Coverage on BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound and text commentary on the BBC Sport website
SECTION A
CrusadersvCliftonville
GlenavonvBallymena Utd
LinfieldvColeraine
SECTION B
ArdsvBallinamallard Utd
Dungannon SwiftsvWarrenpoint Town
GlentoranvCarrick Rangers

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