FOOTBALL: Clifford Adams gets Ballyclare up for early crunch game against Institute

Knockbreda's William McBurney and Ballyclare's Gary Brown
Knockbreda's William McBurney and Ballyclare's Gary Brown

Ballyclare Comrades lock horns this weekend with Institute in what will be billed as the Bluefin Sports Championship Match of the Day.

Clifford Adams’ lads go in to this one on Friday evening as joint leaders, to renew their battle for supremacy with a Drumahoe outfit that is unbeaten to date.

Last season these teams slugged it out for the coveted play-off place, with possible promotion to the Premiership the prize, with ‘Stute coming out on top, so revenge is bound to be high on the agenda.

After back-to-back wins in the opening fixtures, the Reds are denied pole position only by title favourites Portadown on goal difference, while the Co Londonderry lads are in a group of teams in joint third spot following a win and a draw, so marginally the odds appear to favour Comrades.

However in three clashes at Riverside Stadium last season, Comrades collected only two points from a possible nine, so they will start as underdogs.

Four days later the Reds will be in action at Dixon Park on Tuesday evening, when Premier Intermediate League side, Newington, will be in town for a League Cup clash.

These two games will be a massive test for Adams’ new look Comrades, with fourteen new players having been drafted in during the close season, but the manager is in confident mode.

“Last season has been confined to the history books,” he stated. “Friday’s match will be a whole new ball game, with both teams having made significant signings, so we start with a clean slate.

“Ballyclare Comrades had relatively few away wins last season, and during the latter part of the season when I took over, we proved to be poor travellers without a single win.

“However Saturday’s win against Knockbreda got that monkey off our backs, so we will set out for Drumahoe without fear, and hopefully we will get the win that would put us ahead of Portadown at least overnight,” he added.

Stewart Nixon and Michael O’Hanlon will be available for selection following suspension, but this will be offset by Kelly’s automatic omission.