Manager’s programme notes

Posted : 23rd October 2018

Tonight we will take a short break from our Premier league campaign, as we aim to make progress to the semi-final stages of the prestigious County Antrim Shield competition.

However, our cross city rivals Glentoran will provide us with a formidable challenge to our hopes of being in the semi-final draw and we know that we will have to be right on top of our game tonight, if we are to secure the win we all want.

Glentoran showed in our recent league game at the Oval that they are a highly competitive and motivated team who will give their all for their club and their supporters and they will see tonight’s game as the perfect opportunity to halt an unwelcome run of three consecutive defeats.

It’s a derby cup tie and we need to show that it’s us who wants this win the most because we need to show the right response to what was a very disappointing display in what was our first defeat of the season at Ards on Saturday.

While I haven’t been getting carried away with our promising start to the season, I’m also not going to get carried away with our first reverse of the season, no matter how disappointing this setback undoubtedly was. Over the course of a long season, every team suffers days like the one we endured on Saturday and we must learn from it, respond to it and try to ensure that it is not repeated again.

Full credit to Ards who worked hard for their manager and showed a great will to win and on the day, we just couldn’t break down their defiant defence for the equaliser we pressed and pressed for but just couldn’t secure.

After Saturday’s game we will look at the squad and analyse, if and where we need to make changes for tonight’s game. Mark Stafford has returned to the squad following injury and I’m hopeful that Ryan McGivern could be due an outing with the Linfield Swifts team in the very near future. His return to fitness will add extra competition for places and with a tough schedule of fixtures ahead, his experience will prove valuable and essential.

Gareth Deane has joined the injury list in recent weeks, meaning I’ve not been able to field a senior substitute keeper on the bench and hopefully, Gareth will be fit enough to rejoin the squad in the near future. Our longer term injury list has featured Cameron Stewart, Lorcan Forde and Mark Haughey and while they are all making good progress, they are still some time away from a return to action.

A ‘Big Two’ Derby Cup tie will motivate both sets of supporters and our aim will be to give our supporters plenty to cheer about tonight. As we pressed and pressed for an equaliser in Bangor on Saturday, our supporters really got behind the team and it is that intensity of positive support that we will continue to rely on tonight, as we aim to go on another impressive run of positive results.
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