Stephen Baxter’s side face their toughest challenge to date when they play Olimpija Ljubljana NK tonight at Seaview after losing 5-1 in the first leg of the tie in Slovenia last week.
Baxter said last week that the score line flattered the Slovenian side as Crusaders put in an impressive performance overall in the game. The hosts started the game fast and furious and Crusader’s keeper Sean O’Neill foiled shots by Boateng and Daniel Avramovski. Crusaders nearly went 1 up just fourteen minutes into the game when Forsythe’s effort was blocked by keeper Aljac Ivacic. The deadlock was broken by the hosts on the half hour when Boateng netted the ball in to the top corner from eighteen feet.
Crusaders trailed by 1-0 going into the second half and Ivacic denied Cushley a goal in the fifty sixth minute. The Slovenians doubled the score the fifty eighth minute from a curling drive from Crnic. Boateng scored his second of the night in the sixty eighth minute to take the score to 3-0. Crusaders were thrown a life line when Forsythe’s deflected shot found the back the net. Their happiness was short lived when the Crnic scored his second of the game. To add insult to injury, substitute for Olimpija Ljubljana, Haris Kadric scored the fifth of the night in the second minute of added time to leave Crusaders trailing by four goals on aggregate.
So, what can we expect from tonight’s game? Crusaders have a good record at home and they will be hoping to exploit aerial weaknesses shown by the Slovenians last week. Baxter told the media “”They have a lot of big men in their team, but they didn’t deal with the ball in the air at the back particularly well, although they keep and pass the ball well.” Crusader’s are still without striker Jordan Owens however Forsythe and Cushley proved how dangerous they can be when given the opportunity. Crusaders have a very slim chance to go through, but anything can happen in the beautiful game.