FANS of Ballyclare Comrades are hoping the team’s fabulous February will be followed by a marvellous March, writes GEORGE BROWN.
Manager Eddie Hill was surely the uncrowned Championship 2 February manager of the month with five straight wins, but how will he respond to the challenge of having another clean sweep with five or possibly six fixtures to fulfil?
He has made a promising start with a comprehensive 6-2 win against Chimney Corner, but he steadfastly maintains that he is not setting any monthly or end-of-season targets, and will continue to “take it one match at a time”.
“We are on a super run with six wins on the bounce,” said Hill, “but nothing has changed. I look no further ahead than our next game, and we’ll let the league table look after itself.
“We face a daunting task this month with five of our scheduled fixtures on the road with Wakehurst the only visitors to Dixon Park.
“Then there is the possibility of having to fit in at least one midweek match, but we will have to wait for information from the IFA about that.
“Unfortunately three of the four fixtures that have to be rearranged are away, but as our promotion charge gathers pace, points will be hard to come by, either home or away.
“We didn’t encounter too many problems against Chimney Corner on Saturday, but conceding two goals took some of the shine off victory. However, when I look at the winning margin I can’t be too critical.
“Up top Chris Shimmon and Johnny McClurg were superb, with a couple of goals each. Johnny is now our leading scorer with 11 - just one ahead of Ricky Higgins. Shimmon has scored twice in each of the last three outings. He is now on seven and will be challenging the other two for the top scorer’s award at the end of the season.
“As back-up in attack we have Higgins and Mark Wilkinson, so hopefully the goals will continue to flow, after having hit the net fourteen times in the past three matches.
“We are now strong all over the park. When Gerard McAlea cried off on Saturday morning suffering from a bug, Simon McGowan, who was a regular last season, was able to step in as a straight replacement.
“Similarly at the back, when Chris Getty was out injured in came experienced Evan Forsythe, so that demonstrates the importance of having plenty of cover.
“With a heavy programme ahead I was able to give Shimmon and Forsythe a rest in the later stages at Allen Park, but all will be available for this weekend’s trip to Portstewart, so I will have welcome selection problems.
“With 11 fixtures remaining, the players know tevery one will be like a cup final, but our successes have been the result of hard work and nothing will change.
“After the Portstewart game we travel to Ballymoney to take on Glebe Rangers, and then we will have our first outing at Dixon Park for about a month when Wakehurst will be in town, and I look forward to having a good turnout of fans on that occasion.”