Following a dismal first-half display in Saturday’s friendly against Annagh United, Ballyclare Comrades manager Eddie Hill made wholesale changes at the break, but was unable to prevent a 2-0 defeat.
“Four games in eight days took its toll on the players,” said Hill. “We were very much below par in the first half, but there was a marked improvement after the interval.
“My main interest was in monitoring every player as I finalise my thoughts on what I think will be our strongest formation.
“A few names have been pencilled in, but a number of positions will not be decided until after the Brantwood and Kilmore matches, but nobody will be guaranteed a starting place this season,” he stressed.
The Portadown lads made the hosts pay for sloppy defending by scoring twice in the opening half-hour.
The Reds had the better of exchanges in the second session and Randal Reid ought to have got his name on the scorecard when presented with two goalscoring chances.
In the 47th minute he was denied by Fox from close range and shortly afterwards he fired in to the side-netting with the keeper at his mercy.
Fox came to the rescue again when he tipped over a Young effort, before pulling off the most spectacular save of the afternoon, when he somehow managed to get to Gary Brown’s powerful header from an Andy Simms cross.
Comrades: Flood; Young, Doyle, McCart (C), Buckley; Smith, McAlea, Simpson, Cooper; Agnew, Reid.Subs: Getty for Doyle 46’, McClean for McAlea 46’, Brown for Smith 46’, Simms for Cooper 46, Forsythe for McCart 65, Wilkinson for Reid 65.
This Saturday the Comrades entertain Kilmore Rec at Dixon Park (3 pm).
The opening Championship 1 fixture will be on August 9 against Larne at Inver Park.
Meanwhile, the Comrades have been favoured with a home draw against recently relegated Limavady United in the first round of the Wasp Solutions League Cup on Tuesday, August 12.