Crusaders 0-3 Cliftonville: 'We didn't show up - the better team won by a canter' - Baxter

Cliftonville's Sam Ashford and Crusaders' Jarlath O'Rourke battle for possession
Cliftonville's Sam Ashford and Crusaders' Jarlath O'Rourke battle for possession at Seaview

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter said that "the better team won by a canter" after watching his side lose 3-0 to derby rivals Cliftonville at Seaview.

The Crues boss expressed disappointment in his side's performance, lamenting that "they didn't show up" for Monday's north Belfast encounter.

Chris Gallagher and Rory Hale scored first-half goals for the Reds and Ben Wilson added a third after the restart.

"Three nil might have been 6-0, such was the margin of defeat," said Baxter.

"Cliftonville played very, very well and we didn't show up. When you do that in a north Belfast derby you don't expect to get anything out of it.

"It's one that we'll have to take hard on the chin. It's the manner of the performance I'm more disappointed about than the score-line. We'll have to go away and think about that."

'We got our just rewards'

In contrast, Cliftonville manager Jim Magilton praised his charges for "showing their quality and defending for their lives" as they brought to an end a five-game winless run.

"It was a tough game but we took our chances and scored at the right times. We set our stall out and got our just rewards," reflected Magilton.

"The credit goes to the players. We continue to back our beliefs or principles and the players have to back themselves.

"Even after tonight there are things we are going to work on and we are ready for that.

"We have goals in our team and it's a huge confidence boost to have someone like Joe [Gormley] back on our bench and ready to play again."

Cliftonville's win sees them move up to fifth place in the table, one point and one position behind their opponents on Monday night.

'Short corners coming our way'

Baxter conceded that Cliftonville "had all the big positives in the game" and that his side "didn't get tight enough to them".

"We haven't played well. They had runners going at it from all angles and we didn't track those runs.

"Whenever you're in the wrong area of the football pitch you'll get punished, so that's exactly what happened.

"We knew there were short corners coming our way all night - we've dealt with the first couple and then we didn't get across the front of goal.

"It's a mistake us not defending that and it's in the back of the net in a flash.

"The second goal, the midfielder picks it up and we don't track the runner. He drives on into the box and before we know it it's in the back of our net.

"You don't give yourself a platform, we push on a bit trying to get back into the game and then you leave yourself open a little bit at the back.

"That doesn't take away from the football that Cliftonville have produced."