Jordan Forsythe’s wonder strike stole the headlines at Brandywell Stadium but it was Stephen Baxter’s half-time substitution which proved instrumental as Crusaders got their title defence back on track against Institute.
The Shore Road club’s all-time leading goalscorer, Jordan Owens was introduced at the start of the second half and almost instantly put Crusaders back into the driving seat as the champions bounced back to record a first win in three games.
And while the result certainly flattered Crusaders, who have yet to hit the heights of last season, Baxter believes the emphatic second half performance will lift the confidence levels at Seaview.
“I thought the change was needed at half-time once we got through the first half and the wind was very strong down the pitch, the game was ready for Jordan Owens to come on and wreck havoc which he did and we got the goal early to settle us down,” said the Crusaders boss.
“He hasn’t been at his best this year and had been carrying a calf injury from last season and you ask him to go out and give it his best every week. He’s picked up a few injuries and just isn’t firing on all cylinders which is normal. We’ll bring him back gradually into the team but it was good to see Rory (Patterson) get a goal today too.
“We kept at it and created a few more chances but I’m pleased to come away from home and a win 4-1, so it’s positive.”
Much has been made about Crusaders poor run of form but Baxter insists he was never overly concerned and believes Saturday’s win can provide a platform going into next weekend’s north Belfast derby against Cliftonville at Seaview.
“I’m always confident we can win football matches, we’ve been doing it for a long time. You always hit a bump in the road and there’s been a bit of ‘flu around and some injuries in the last four weeks. It’s early in the season and we’ve got to keep working hard and giving it our best and today was a positive result because this little Institute team have got a lot of potential.”
On Forsythe’s wonderful second half strike, Baxter admits he asked the midfielder if he meant it as he brought him off with seven minutes to go.
“When I took him off I asked him did he mean it. He has that ability to see things early and sometimes he takes them on and they roll into the goalkeeper’s hands at two miles per hour whereas today it flown into the top corner. He looked up and saw it and had a go. I was about to shout at him ‘what are you doing?’ and of course it ends up in the back of the net.”
It was a frustrating afternoon for ‘Stute boss, Paddy McLaughlin who is delighted to see the back of September having registered just a single point from five games during the month which involved games against Glentoran, Glenavon and Crusaders.
“The scoreline is probably a bit harsh. I thought we played really well in the first half and deserved to go in all square. To concede three in the second half was disappointing. We knew September was going to be tough. We’ve played against three title contenders. The fixtures definitely didn’t do us any favours. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves and curse our luck too much. We’ve got a big month coming up now in October so we’ll dust ourselves down and get on with it.”