Saturday 16th March 2019, Kick Off 3.00pm
On Saturday (weather permitting!) we travel to the Showgrounds for the first time since November to face second placed Ballymena United.
The gap between these two teams has widened significantly since we blew our chance of a top six finish in the corresponding match at the Oval in March last year. We went into that game one place and two points ahead whereas for this one we are six places and an unprecedented thirty points behind United. So, while we’ve only pride to play for on Saturday, our supporters will be demanding nothing but 100% from the whole squad.
On our last visit we came back from an early deficit with a second half header from Curtis Allen. At that point we were well on top and looking like winning until – not for the only time this season – we were undone by a piece of crazy defending. Tony Kane scored the resultant penalty to secure a 2-1 win for the home time. At our earlier meeting at the Oval a few days earlier we lost 1-0 to an early goal in a lifeless display and drab match.
Our form at the Showgrounds has been a lot better than our home form against United with just two defeats in our last 16 league visits, winning and losing two each in the four meetings since David Jeffrey took the Ballymena job.
Gary Smyth said after training on Thursday evening: “Last Saturday against Ards was typically frustrating for us. While we didn’t play well, we created but missed more than enough chances to make the game safe, then conceded a soft goal through more bad decision making at the back. Ards created very little but we weren’t able to capitalise on that well enough. That’s not good enough. I was very pleased with Jamie Glover’s performance on his debut, but he’s picked up a knock playing for Northern Ireland U18 Schoolboys in their win in Wales this afternoon, so we’ll see how that pans out before Saturday.
In our last game at Ballymena we were all very disappointed with the result. We came back well to equalise through Curtis and were well on top until we gave a way a totally unnecessary penalty. That’s very frustrating for all of us as we seem to keep making similar defensive mistakes and letting other teams off the hook.
For Saturday we’re still without the three long term injured players and to add to that we have Darren Murray and Willie Garrett suspended for a match each. On the plus side we have John Herron back and Elliott has put in two full weeks in training so he seems to have fully recovered. We’ll make our selection decisions nearer the time depending on who is available and on how I feel the conditions will be. That’s if the match is still on!”