CHAMPIONSHIP: Hughes targets maximum points from next three in promotion push

Lurgan Celtic did Ballyclare Comrades a good turn at the weekend when they defeated Institute, but they are unlikely to hand out any favours when they come to Dixon Park on Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, 19th January 2017, 11:41 am
Updated Thursday, 19th January 2017, 11:42 am
Ballyclare Comrades are six points behind leaders Warrenpoint Town. Pic: Press Eye

This is billed as the NIFL Championship Match of the Day, with second placed Comrades hoping to get the better of their fifth placed opponents.

Revenge will be high on the agenda for the Reds, having lost the earlier clash at Knockramer Park 3-1, but manager Stephen Hughes is quietly confident of success.

“They beat us un Lurgan completely against the run of play,” he argued. “We battered them for an hour but couldn’t get the goals, so we go in to this return fixture with confidence. We have strengthened our side significantly, so we now must press on to make sure we go in to the split in second spot.

“My aim is to collect nine points from our three remaining pre-split matches against Celtic, Warrenpoint and Armagh. Currently Warrenpoint are in the box seat, so a win against them at Dixon Park would blow the title race wide open going in to the second half of the season,” he contended.

On the 1-0 win over the Welders, he said: “It was a tough physical battle in difficult conditions especially in the second half. A heavy shower just before the interval resulted in the pitch cutting up badly, and this didn’t suit our passing style of play, but we dug in, got the points.

“Two of our recent recruits, Samuel McIlveen and Kevin Lynch, figured prominently. McIlveen fitted in perfectly alongside JB Dobbin in midfield, allowing Corey McMullan to play in a more forward role, while Lynch showed that he is going to be an asset up front.

“We have goal-scorers all over the pitch. McMullan is out in front with 11, but is being hotly pursued by Thomas Robinson and Chris Trussell both on 9, but we have one of the worst defensive records in the league and we have been working on that.”