Comrades aim for spot in Steel Cup quarters

Ballyclare Comrades are on the brink of reaching the quarter-finals of the Steel and Sons Cup, writes George Brown.

Today they travel to Dromara Village and the Reds - on the back of six games unbeaten - are aiming to book their spot in the last eight.

Assistant-manager Gary Bell told the Times: “This is the top knockout trophy in which Comrades have a good history, and we are one step away from the quarters.

“Barring the way is Dromara who are a Premier Division in the Amateur League. When I was with Nortel I played against them several times, and I know they have some quality players, so I reckon that we face a strong, physical battle at their ground.”

Ballyclare go into the match on the back of a 1-0 win against Knockbreda in Championship 2.

“They came to us as leaders, but when they bit the dust at fortress Dixon that allowed Armagh City to slip in to top spot,” added Bell.

“We are tucked in nicely behind these two, and our recent run of four league wins on the trot has somewhat made up for the loss of early season points to Queen’s and Moyola.

“Including Steel and Sons Cup ties, we have now registered six straight wins, with one solitary goal conceded. That says something about our defence.

“Andrew Doyle and Chris Monteith have come in from the Amateur League and found no difficulty in making the step up, and, along with Glenn Pierce and Evan Forsythe, we have a formidable back four.

“Despite having picked the ball out of the net only once in the past six matches, goalkeeper Paddy Flood is not satisfied with his performances - he thinks that he could do better!

“I think that is the attitude of players throughout the team. We now have competition all over the park, and everyone knows there are no guaranteed places on the team-sheet.

“In most of our wins our midfielders have been a shade better than our opponents, and thankfully we have had no recent injuries, so that we have been able to field a more or less settled formation.

“Johnny McClurg came off two minutes from time against Knockbreda as a precautionary measure, and with no other injury problems we should be at full strength, so I hope that we live up to our pre-match favourites tag against Dromara.”