Saturday 9th January 2019. Kick off 3.00pm
On Saturday we visit Milltown for the second time this season, looking for a better performance and result than on our last visit in September, when we conceded a late equaliser from Ciaran O’Connor after leading from the fourteenth minute through a John Herron header.
This is a genuine six pointer as ‘Point are currently one place behind us on goal difference only. We have the potential to move up to seventh or down as low as tenth depending on Saturday’s results, but with Institute and Dungannon Swifts hosting Ballymena and Crusaders respectively we should be looking for the win that could send us back up the table.
Gary Smyth said on Thursday evening after our first night training at our new venue at Aquinas: “I’ve got mixed feelings about Tuesday night at Newry. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win but I never felt we were in any danger of losing the match. Obviously we wanted the win but I felt the conditions made it a bit of a lottery – I was very surprised it was on and when I went on to see the players at full time it was as heavy a pitch as I’ve ever experienced. That’s nothing to do with Newry City, a really good club. It was purely a weather thing I thought we started the game pretty well and their keeper made a great early save from Conor Pepper, who was excellent. Their opening goal was as big a deflection as you’ll see but after that we didn’t stop and the midfield in particular worked very hard and effectively all night so I was delighted with the effort we got. There were plenty of opportunities to get the ball down the flanks but too often there was no final ball. A couple of the players said they were losing their feet on the heavy surface when trying to get their cross in. Newry were quite direct and got the ball forward quickly but I didn’t feel they ever really threatened us.
For Saturday I’m pleased to have Curtis back from his one match suspension but we have a couple of injuries. Ross Redman has had a nagging injury that’s now likely to keep him out for a few weeks. Joe Crowe is available after suspension but he went over badly on his ankle in training tonight so he’s very doubtful. Elliott feels he’s nearly ready but I do need to pay tribute to Dwayne Nelson who I thought played very well in the tricky conditions at Newry. I was also pleased with Gavin Peers getting his first start and I thought he did well. He’s still finding his feet but his attitude is excellent and I’m very confident that after 2 or 3 more games everyone will see what a great addition he’ll be to our squad.”