In our penultimate 2019/20 club profile series, Crusaders are under investigation. After a disappointing showing in their first season as a full-time side, the Crues look to build on Irish Cup success and return to the summit of Irish football.
|Carrick Rangers||August 10th||Home|
|Warrenpoint Town||August 13th||Away|
|Dungannon Swifts||August 31st||Home|
While the cup competitions provided a welcome reprieve from Crusader’s inconsistent League campaign, the Hatchetmen will be targeting the return of the Gibson Cup to Seaview for the third time in six seasons. Poor defensive displays and a lack of cutting edge where it counts cost Crusaders in the previous campaign. No league victories since the split represents a challenge to the Crues for the coming season- if Crusaders are to secure league success once again, they must beat their closest rivals this season.
The acquisition of former Rangers, Millwall, Linfield and Dungannon Swifts defender Chris Hegarty represents an experienced presence to re-solidify the Crusader’s defence. If the defender can maintain his fitness throughout the season the Crues may once again be a force at the business end of the table. Jarlath O’Rourke has made the same journey from Dungannon Swifts to Seaview. The 24-year-old will push for a starting position either at full-back or as part of the Crusaders midfield. The club have also made public moves to secure Coleraine striker Jamie McGonigal. Experienced forward Michael Carvill has left the club following a loan period at Dungannon Swifts.
Entering into an unmatched fifteenth season, Stephen Baxter’s legacy at Crusader’s is unquestioned. Having taken over a struggling outfit in the second division, the north-Belfast side are amongst Northern Ireland’s largest clubs and began a transition to full-time football before the previous campaign. Baxter will draw upon his experience in a bid to return the Gibson Cup to Seaview for the fourth time in his career.
After a successful and highly profitable European campaign, Crusaders are set to maintain a sustained challenge for the league this season. With a season of full-time football under their belt, the Crues will be targeting a return to the summit of Irish football once again.
Crusaders are second-favourites to lift the Gibson Cup this season at 3/1. Attacker Paul Heatley is 11/2 to be top goalscorer, while Jordan Owens is a slightly bigger 8/1. Rory Patterson and David Cushley are outsiders at 16/1 and 20/1 respectively. All odds are available in store or via our dial-a-bet service.
Check out all of our Irish League odds here, and join us again tomorrow for the the final club series: Linfield. Catch-up with our previous club profiles here: Warrenpoint Town, Institute, Carrick Rangers, Dungannon Swifts, Glenavon, Glentoran, Larne, Ballymena.