Derby day success sets up Comrades nicely

Correy McMullan secured the win for Ballyclare
Correy McMullan secured the win for Ballyclare

No doubt about this weekend’s Championship match of the day – it’s the top of the table clash between Ballyclare Comrades and Dergview in Castlederg.

With overnight pacesetters Warrenpoint Town and Institute both dropping points at the weekend, Comrades and Dergview leap-frogged to the summit, with the County Tyrone lads shading it on goal difference.

“Dergview have a good side, with their striker Ryan Campbell, signed from Ballinamallard during the summer, the league’s top scorer,” stated Comrades supremo Stephen Hughes. “They also have former Northern Ireland international winger Ivan Sproule in their attack, so we will be guaranteed a hot reception at Darragh Park, but we will be up for it.

“I think we have one of the fittest teams in the league, and we play at high tempo, and after having seen off Larne on Saturday with something to spare, I will be disappointed if we don’t get something out of this game,” he enthused.

Turning his attention to the win against Larne he offered, “Local derby clashes always up the tempo, and this one was no exception. I thought that we were subjected to some heavy challenges, and that the Latvian referee was rather lenient, especially at the clash that caused the minor touchline scuffle at half time.

“As I saw it just seconds before the half time whistle the Larne player blatantly fouled Corey McMullan right in front of the dugout, and was fortunate to escape with a yellow card. However when McMullan was also booked it angered home fans and sparked a minor skirmish, but thankfully tempers cooled during the break and there was no more trouble.

“When the referee penalised Curtis Woods rather harshly and Larne scored from the spot it gave them a lift five minutes in to the second half, and then they went on to equalise to set up an interesting final twenty minutes. I think that our winning penalty also was rather a soft one, but overall we were well worth the three points.

“Our three former players Scott Irvine, Samuel McIlveen and Kyle Buckley all showed up well for Larne, but with Gary Brown, Michael O’Hanlon and Jason Johnston winning the midfield battle, I thought that we were good value for the win.

“Taking on title challengers Larne and Dergview back-to-back is a tall order, but I will be happy if we emerge with four points,“ he ended.