A perfect 10 for Comrades

Ballyclare's Simon McGowan plays the ball wide in last weekend's win over Glebe Rangers.
Ballyclare's Simon McGowan plays the ball wide in last weekend's win over Glebe Rangers.

BALLYCLARE Comrades have been picking up Championship 2 points for fun recently.

Saturday's 4-2 win over Glebe Rangers means they have now colllected a maximum 30 points from 10 consecutive games. But they are entering a crucial phase of their promotion push with five fixtures in the next fortnight and Eddie Hill's men are getting the sleeves rolled up for the business end of the campaign.

Starting this weekend, the packed programme will stretch Hill's side's resources to the limit - especially when clashes against his two main promotion challengers, Armagh City and Lurgan Celtic, are included. These two teams, along with leaders Knockbreda and second-placed Comrades have reduced it a four-horse race for the title.

Celtic's challenge suffered a severe set-back at the weekend when they were thrashed 8-0 by 'Breda, while Armagh strengthened their standing by putting Chimney Corner to the sword in convincing style with a thumping 11-1 win, which puts Ballyclare's looming trips to Armagh and Celtic into perspective.

Reflecting on the situation, Hill told the Times: "The next five fixtures may be looked upon as crucial, but as far as I am concerned we will not treat them any differently.

"My main focus at this moment is on picking up three points against Wakehurst at Dixon Park on Saturday. We shot ourselves in the foot early in the season by dropping points to so-called lesser teams, and we have remedied this with 10 straight league wins, and we don't intend to have any slip-ups against Wakehurst. After that, we will take the two home and two away March fixtures one step at a time.

"It's far too early for us to start blowing our own trumpets. Our successes have been built on hard work in training, and I must give the lads praise for their total commitment. We have players playing for the jersey and with a strong panel I am quietly confident of having a good run-in. It will be heads down and sleeves rolled up from now until the promotion issue has been settled.

"On Saturday we had to battle to secure the points against Glebe Rangers, even though they finished with only nine men. With half an hour to go we were leading 3-2, and it took a late strike by Chris Shimmon to settle the nerves.

"Chris has been in blistering goal-scoring form since joining us in January, with nine in seven outings. He is already challenging for the top scorer's award, chasing Johnny McClurg and Ricky Higgins.

"Despite scoring twice in the previous game, Adam Gray started on the bench after having been unable to train during the week, so that left a gap for Ricky Higgins to come in after being out injured for several weeks, and he linked up well with Shimmon up top.

"With no injuries or suspensions, I should have a full panel to select from this weekend. And having been on the road for the past five matches, I hope the fans turn out in good numbers to support us as we attempt to extend our winning run."