Seasiders set to provide big test for Reds

Action from Ballyclare's 2-0 win over Dergview last weekend. INNT 42-002-FP
Action from Ballyclare's 2-0 win over Dergview last weekend. INNT 42-002-FP

Saturday’s Steel and Sons Cup quarter-final tie between Ballyclare Comrades and Bangor promises to be a high-scoring cracker, writes George Brown.

In the previous two rounds each scored a total of 10 goals while conceding only two, so the stage is set for fireworks at Dixon Park.

In the third round Bangor beat Crumlin United 5-2, before whitewashing Kilmore Rec 5-0 in round four; while Comrades thrashed Ballynahinch United 6-1 in round three, and followed this with a 4-1 result in Drumaness.

All these successes were against junior sides, mainly from the Amateur League, but now the Championship 1 heavyweights come head-to-head, with a place in the semi-finals at stake.

Last season the Seasiders came to Dixon Park and won 3-2 in the Irish Cup, so Eddie Hill’s lads will be out for revenge.

“This is the big one; it’s a winner takes all clash,” said Hill. “Earlier this season Bangor dumped Premier outfit Warrenpoint out of the League Cup, and they are coming here off a brilliant 2-0 win against last season’s Division 2 champions, Knockbreda, so we will have to be at our best.

“Thankfully, we came through against Dergview unscathed, and with Darren Doherty and Chris Monteith returning I should have a full panel to select from.

“I was impressed with our performance against Dergview, with the only criticism being that we should have won much more convincingly.

“We lacked the cutting edge up front, but we are creating chances, and sooner or later we will deliver.

“Thankfully, midfielder Andy Simms got the two goals that matter. He has been flying recently and he came close to getting his hat-trick.”

Hill was also impressed with goalkeeper Paddy Flood, who deserved his first clean sheet for several weeks.

“Paddy has been working hard at training with our goalkeeping coach Andy Smith, and this has improved his confidence.

“Although we dominated against Dergview, he did make a couple of very important saves, but generally our defence was on top.

“Gerard McAlea filled in as a stop-gap at right-back where he never put a foot wrong, proving that a talented player can adapt quickly to any position.

“Their player-manager, Richard Clarke, the former Portadown star, showed some neat touches but we were dominant throughout, and the same again on Saturday will suit me fine,” he concluded.

Hopefully there will be a good turnout at Dixon Park for this tie of the round, but fans are reminded of the earlier than usual kick-off at 2 pm.