Time for Reds to show their Steel

Ballyclare's Andy Doyle clears his lines in Saturday's 3-1 win over Annagh United
Ballyclare's Andy Doyle clears his lines in Saturday's 3-1 win over Annagh United

BALLYCLARE Comrades face a tough assignment this weekend when they host Newington Youth Club in the third round of the Steel & Sons Cup.

Over the past decade the north Belfast club have emerged as one of the stalwarts in the Amateur League, with silverware seldom missing from the top table at their annual dinner.

On Tuesday evening club chairman Trevor McCann confirmed to the Newtownabbey Times that the match would be switched to Dixon Park (Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm). Reds manager Eddie Hill says it’s another banana-skin clash, with Newington having nothing to lose.

Reflecting on Saturday’s 3-1 win over Annagh United in their Championship 2 campaign, Hill said: “There was a tense finish until Gerard McAlea popped up with his second strike of the afternoon to secure the deserved 3-1 win.

“Except for a 10-minute spell in the first half when they scored their goal, we were in control.

“I opted for a 4-4-2 formation and the back four - Glenn Pierce, Andrew Doyle, Evan Forsythe and Chris Monteith - were in superb form, so our keeper, Paddy Flood, had a much easier afternoon than his opposite number.

“Evan [Forsythe] was forced to retire at the interval owing to a recurrence of an ankle problem, but Aaron Montgomery proved to be an able deputy.

“Recent signings have ensured there is competition for places, so we have quality all over the pitch.

“For the first time the Higgins brothers, David and club captain Ricky, were paired up front, and this combination looked promising until Ross Earley replaced David for the final quarter, with Kyle Agnew moving in to the attack.

“Having been on the bench for a few games, Simon McGowan has returned to his customary centre-midfield role where he and McAlea out-gunned their opponents.

“Agnew and Adam Gray moved well down the flanks to support the front two, and overall I was well pleased with the performance.

“That was our fourth straight win, and three of them were clean sheets, so we must now aim to maintain the momentum - especially in Saturday’s crucial Steel and Sons Cup tie,” he added.

Report by George Brown