The Welders should be wary of their return to Dixon Park this weekend, following a comprehensive defeat on their previous visit, writes George Brown.
On that occasion last April, Ballyclare Comrades seemed to be heading for relegation, but under new manager David Dorrian the Reds surged to a shock 3-0 win that effectively turned their season around.
However, Welders boss Gary Smyth brings his side to Ballyclare with an impressive record, sitting proudly at the Championship 1 summit. They have also reached the semi-finals of two prestigious trophies – the Steel and Sons Cup and the County Antrim Shield.
So the shipyard men come to Dixon Park as firm favourites, but David Dorrian is unfazed by their reputation.
“No doubt the Welders have the reputation and the resources, but following our win in Bangor on our last outing confidence is high in the camp and we will be ready for battle on Saturday afternoon,” he said.
“I had hoped we would carry forward the momentum gained from that win to our next fixture against Donegal Celtic, but unfortunately it was postponed, so I hope that it hasn’t been lost. Normally when a match is postponed we would fit in an extra training session, but Dixon Park too was partially waterlogged.
“Except for the injured Sandy McDermott, I will have a full squad to select from, so we will be going all out to secure our first back-to-back wins of the season,” he added.
Comrades fans will be hoping that former favourite Davy Rainey will not be firing on all cylinders on Saturday. Following a distinguished career in the Premiership, Davy is now starring with the east Belfast side and has formed a lethal strike combination with Michael McLellan.
This pair has contributed significantly to their goals tally of 24 in 10 league outings, but much of the Welders success has been built round a solid defence that has the best record in the league, with only seven conceded.
Meanwhile, Saturday’s wins for Armagh City and Knockbreda pulled them clear of Comrades, who are still fourth from bottom, while defeats to Institute and Lisburn Distillery keep them in relegation trouble just above bottom placed Donegal Celtic.
Comrades chairman Trevor McCann is hoping the visit of the leaders will produce the best gate of the season.