Hughes expecting tough test against Loughgall
Michael Hughes is hoping this weekend’s Championship One clash with Loughgall will be the springboard to a bright new start on the home pitch for Carrick Rangers, but admits it won’t be an easy match.
Carrick go into Saturday’s encounter without a league win to their name since September and former Crystal Palace and Wimbledon star Hughes knows his men are in for a tough battle against a team four places above them in the league.
“It’s a tough game for us but I believe we are going into it with a much-improved squad and we should be full of confidence, because there is no real reason why we shouldn’t start to turn things around on the field of play,” Hughes told the Times.
“We are still actively pursuing a number of players who can do a job for us in positions where need more strength in depth. We need a striker and I’m optimistic about getting one because I have four or five irons in the fire, possibly another midfielder to bolster the squad, and perhaps one more defender capable of going into the team straight away.
“At the start of the season we were restricted in our options because of what was, to be fair, self-inflicted budgetary constraints because we didn’t want to push the boat out since we were paying out more for the hire of grounds than we were taking in at the gate. And match ball and match sponsorships were hard to come by because we were not playing at home.
“But, since moving back to Taylor’s Avenue, we’re thankfully over that phase. Okay, it’s obvious we still have a budget within which we must be careful to stay, but it is significantly better than we had at the start of the season.
“And, although I can’t elaborate at the moment, there are a lot of really positive things happening behind the scenes at the club and I can confidently say that things are certainly going in the right direction off the pitch, which will hopefully encourage better things to happen on the field of play.”
He added: “A win against Loughgall on Saturday but would lift the spirits of everybody connected to the club and it would be terrific if we could provide that.
“With the arrival of some great players already, such as Sean Friars (inset), Lee Colligan and Anto Lagan, and more to follow, it’s encouraging for myself and the club’s loyal core of supporters.
“When we played them down at Lakeview Park five or six weeks ago, they beat us 2-1 but their manager admitted it could well have been a 6-1 win for Carrick.
“Colm Malone is a good friend of mine - as is his assistant, Gerard McMahon whom I know well right back from playing alongside him in the Northern Ireland team. Loughgall have a nice wee set-up down there and they always try to play football the way it should be played.
“So, I’m expecting a good game of football and it may all depend on which side makes the best use of chances created. I’m happy enough with our prospects.”
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Weather for Carrick
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North