Tomorrow evening we make our first visit of the season to the Ballymena Showgrounds.
After a summer of major changes, Ballymena United have endured a run of 4 defeats in a challenging start to the campaign.
New manager Jim Ervin has overhauled the squad he inherited from David Jeffrey, with 10 new signings and 11 players departing. Amongst the arrivals, former Crusaders captain Colin Coates, returning forward Johnny McMurray and former Glentoran midfielder John McGuigan are the most notable and on loan St Mirren midfielder Fraser Taylor made a lively debut in last week’s narrow defeat to Linfield.
Coates will serve the final game of a 3-match ban, picked up for a sending off against his former club Crusaders. New forward Alex Gawne has been missing since going off injured in the opening night defeat at his former club Coleraine and winger Marc Walsh missed the Linfield game after featuring as a substitute against Larne.
I’m last season’s games on Warden Street, both sides claimed a win apiece. In the New Years game, Glentoran followed up defeat on Boxing Day with an abject performance in a 2-0 loss: Sean Graham and Ryan Waide scoring in each half for the Braidmen. Just 6 weeks later, Graham again struck in the first half to give Ballymena the lead but Jay Donnelly equalised 3 minutes before half time and a quick-fire brace from brother Rory just before the hour secured a 3-1 win as the Glens were picking up again following Rodney McAree’s appointment as manager.
Warren Feeney: “I expect a hard game with Ballymena. I know they’ve had a bad run of results to start the season but they’ve had a run of difficult fixtures against some of the better teams in the league.
Going into this game we still have a number of players with injuries, which has made it difficult to get a settled squad and made it hard for the players we’ve had available to get into the sort of rhythm we want. So I’m hoping to have a couple of them back to strengthen us and give us an extra bit of stability. But I’ve been very pleased with their attitude and I know they’re all looking forward to getting back on the pitch after not playing last Saturday.
With a week to go before the transfer window closes we are still actively pursuing one or two new players in the positions we need strengthened. It’s tough to get exactly the players you want at the minute through both availability and the money being asked, but we’ll keep working at that and hopefully we’ll come out of the window in the strongest possible shape.
Tickets for the away end at this game can be purchased HERE on the Ballymena United website.