After a battling 2-1 win over East Antrim rivals Carrick Rangers in round six of the Irish Cup on Saturday, Ballyclare were handed a daunting trip to Crusaders in the last eight, writes JOHN GILLESPIE.
The Comrades’ assistant-manager, Gary Bell, knows it will be a monumental task against Stephen Baxter’s side but he’s a firm believer that anything can happen in when it comes to Cup football.
“The Crues are in the top two or three teams in Northern Ireland. They have home advantage but we’ll go there and they will give us respect as we will to them. At the end of the day, it’s a Cup game; form goes out the window and, touch wood, it’s our day and we can progress to the next round,” he said.
“Seaview is a ground where we haven’t had favour in the last few years. We have been put out of the Steel and Sons Cup twice there in two years [at the semi-final stage] - maybe it will be third time lucky.”
First-half goals from Kyle Agnew and Daniel Smith were enough to edge past Carrick at Dixon Park on Saturday. The visitors’ only response came from Richard Gibson who halved the Reds’ advantage on the stroke of half-time.
Bell admitted it was tough going against the side sitting top of Championship 1. “To be honest I didn’t really think we had it easy throughout the game,” he said. “We took our chances and our back four and keeper Paddy Flood were magnificent - especially when Carrick were throwing caution to the wind. A derby is a special occasion, but more so when the quarter-final of the Irish Cup is at stake. It’s a great achievement for us.”
Carrick boss Gary Haveron said: “We created our own problems with the two goals we conceded in the first half. We gave them something to defend and they did it well. They put the blocks in, won their headers but I think we made it easier for them.”