‘It was nice how it ended’ – Baxter’s victorious farewell

Comment on the photo, Stephen Baxter celebrates victory with a young fan at Seaview

Stephen Baxter welcomed a ‘new dawn’ at the Crusaders as he ended his 19-year reign as local football coach with a 3-2 win over Coleraine in the European qualifying final.

“If you were to write it down before a game, you would probably say this is what you’re looking for,” Baxter said.

“It’s a great send-off for fans to enjoy the summer, and European football is good for finances and gives them something to build on.

“It was nice to have it all over for me and to give the fans a round of applause to thank them for the time I had here.

“It was a blast and I loved every minute of it. You can stay for a long time because you enjoy the people and the staff.

“It is a new dawn, it is a new era and I wish them all success in the next stage.”

Video explanation, Watch: Crusaders vs Coleraine

Baxter would stay on to manage the team in the Europa League qualifiers but it was the last game for Cruz winger Paul Heatley before retirement.

Jimmy McGonigle gave Coleraine an early lead before goals in a minute from Jarlath O’Rourke and Daniel Larmour put the Crusaders ahead.

A brilliant shot from Josh Carson made it 2-2 before Seaview’s Owens won it with a close-range effort late on.

Baxter added: “I knew that one goal would win in both cases, but I did not expect the result to be 3-2.”

“It was a great game of football and Coleraine attacked us hard from the start. Basically what we were saying was ‘We’ll put the ball in the right area and we’ll score a goal’ – we did that.”

“We had to turn that corner [at 2-2] And for me that was Jordan Owens Timing. “This may just be the hair difference that got us over the line.”

Video explanation, WATCH: ‘It was a blast’ – Baxter bids farewell

Coleraine coach Oran Kearney was frustrated after his team failed to qualify for Europe.

“I can’t give our boys more credit – I thought our performance in the first half, for the most part, was really good until all of a sudden we had a couple of moments of madness,” he said.

“I thought the way we responded in the second half showed everything we needed and Josh got the moment we needed.

“I thought after that we gained momentum and we had two really good chances to make it 2-2.

“But it’s very frustrating – it’s a pinball game where anything can happen and before you know it it’s over. It’s just good margins on days like this.”

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