CRUSADERS boss Anthony Murray called it “cruel”; and Scott Naylor needed no prompting to advance the view that Crusaders did not deserve to lose.

Nevertheless, the scoreline does not lie – Oldham escaped with a 16-14 victory.

“The biggest thing I’ll take from this was the amount of character we showed,” said a relieved Scott Naylor.

“We wouldn’t have won that last year.

“This was the best Crusaders side we’ve seen for about three years and I think Anthony Murray has done a great job.

“If I’m perfectly honest they didn’t deserve to lose. We know what it’s like to lose in those circumstances and it’s not nice.

“In the first half especially they were very good at the things you’ve got to be good at – completing sets, defending well, putting us under pressure and kicking effectively.

“They put us under pressure a lot but we didn’t reciprocate.

“Conditions didn’t make for good rugby, but it was the same for both sides.

“We went 14-0 down before we realised we needed to up our game and play a bit more rugby.

“I’ve already spoken about the conditions, but whatever the weather we seem to lack a little bit of confidence and self-belief to play the rugby I’m certain we can achieve.

“The more we get used to playing alongside each other, the better we’ll be and we’ll then score a lot of points.

“I have to say, though, that not many teams will come to Wrexham and win if Crusaders continue to play like they did today.

“In the end it was probably a little bit of quality, as provided by Anthony Bowman, that was the difference between the two sides.

“I must re-iterate, however, that Crusaders will take a lot of beating on home soil.”

Home coach Anthony Murray, gracious in defeat, described rugby league as a cruel game at times and said he was massively impressed by his side’s defensive effort which was much better than it had been at Workington.

Kenny Hughes, who left Oldham at the end of last season after eight years and 138 appearances, summed up his disappointment in one word – “gutted”.

He was the Crusaders replacement hooker, coming off the bench to take over from Karl Ashall.