FOLLOWING two back-to-back cup defeats, Ballyclare Comrades will be on the promotion trail again this weekend in Cookstown, writes George Brown.
Although opponents, Killymoon Rangers, are in the Championship Two basement, they gave Glentoran a run for their money last weekend in the Irish Cup before running out of steam in the later stages, so they will deserve respect.
“On paper we should collect full points,” said Reds’ manager Eddie Hill, “but it depends upon the attitude of the players.
“Against Islandmagee in the Intermediate Cup we were woeful and deserved to be beaten, but what a transformation against Bangor in the Irish Cup.
“The lads fairly reacted to my demand for a big response, and they certainly turned in a great shift, without getting a result.
“I am confident that if they reproduce the Bangor performance consistently, we could be involved in an exciting end to the season.
“We are sitting in sixth position in the table, but if we won our two games in hand we would be challenging Armagh City for the second spot.
“We have to play Armagh home and away, and leaders Knockbreda away, so our season is far from over,” he said.
The Comrades will definitely be without Simon McGowan for the trip to County Tyrone. The influential midfielder is suspended. Gary Brown is extremely doubtful after having to come off with an injury against Bangor.
“Evan Forsythe, Ross Earley and Gerard McAlea all picked up knocks, and their condition will be monitored during training, but on the positive side Andrew Doyle came through with flying colours at the heart of the defence, after having been sidelined for several weeks.
“That defeat to Bangor was hard to take,” added Hill. “I just can’t get my head round it. As I saw it, we were the better team by a mile, but didn’t have any luck at all.
“We hit the post twice and had a goal disallowed, but it’s goals that win matches. We did have the lead, but then we conceded sloppy goals.
“I was completely gutted at the final whistle, and I felt sorry for the players who had given me everything. Bangor were operating under a new manager and even though they upped their performance, we were more than a match for them.
“We will have to put these two defeats behind us and concentrate on climbing the table, with promotion to Championship 1 our top priority for the remainder of the season.”