Ballyclare Comrades head off to Belfast on Saturday seeking their first back-to-back wins of the season.
David Dorrian’s lads raised a few eyebrows last time out when they pulled off a surprise victory in Bangor, so he hopes the winning momentum will be carried forward for the clash with Donegal Celtic at Suffolk Road.
The Wee Hoops are currently propping up the Championship 1 table, but recently manager Nicky Maye has been sacked and replaced by Gerry Bradley, who will be striving to get the new era off to a winning start.
“A team normally does well in the first outing under a new manager, so I expect DC will be pulling out all the stops to get the better of us in what is likely being billed as a basement battle,” cautioned Dorrian.
Celtic have been leaking goals with 30 conceded compared to Comrades’ 12, but on the other hand they have scored three more than the Reds, so this one would be difficult to call.
When Celtic’s defensive frailties were drawn to his attention he quipped: “Let’s hope they continue against us!”
Dorrian confirmed that except for long-time injury casualty, Sandy McDermott, he will have a full squad available for almost the first time this season.
“Chris Getty is free from suspension, while Curtis Woods and Randal Reid have benefited from the week off, and have resumed full training as has Gregg Shannon. Johnny McClurg and Gary Brown got a much needed 90 minutes with the Reserves, so they too come in to the reckoning, but I will not make a final decision until I assess everyone at training on Thursday evening,” he stressed.
Under Dorrian’s watchful eye Comrades Reserves saw off main Ballymena Junior League rivals, Newington YC II at Valley Leisure Centre on Saturday and he was pleased with what he witnessed.
“I requested that Brown and McClurg would be given match time and they each put in a good shift and came through unscathed, but it was the performance of the young lads that really impressed me,” said Dorrian.
“They were up against a strong team, but they kept the ball well and moved it around the big pitch, so that their opponents were mainly chasing. We have some talented teenagers on our books and I am hoping for another Joel Cooper coming through on the conveyor belt.
“Regrettably, we have had to release Dean McAllister because we have plenty of central defenders.
“Dean has served us well for the past couple of seasons, but we must concentrate on bringing young players forward from our youth teams, so we wish him well as he leaves Dixon Park,” he added.