Comrades anxious to stop the rot ahead of Welders clash

Ballyclare manager Stephen Hughes
Ballyclare manager Stephen Hughes

Fans are hoping for another goalfest when H&W Welders come to Dixon Park on Saturday after the teams produced a seven goal thriller earlier in the season.

That day at Tillysburn Park, Comrades emerged victorious on a 4-3 scoreline after recovering from a 3-0 deficit, but how fortunes have changed since those heady September days.

At that stage, Stephen Hughes’ lads were in the top three with promotion aspirations very much alive but now they find themselves in the bottom half of the table after collecting only one point from the past six matches.

Welders too are in decline with a return of three points from six fixtures and they are also in the lower part of the table, one point ahead of their Ballyclare rivals, so this weekend’s clash could end in stalemate.

Reflecting on the situation manager Hughes said, “Our fall down the table has been mainly due to injuries and suspensions, especially in the defensive department.

“Against Knockbreda on Saturday our defence was absolutely decimated. With Paddy Flood and Dean Youle suspended and Michael McQuitty and Adam Wright out for several weeks through injury, we were hit another blow on Saturday morning when Curtis Woods cried off ill.

“So teenager Ben Fry took over in goal, with Taylor Kirk and Jason Johnston as central defenders while midfielder John Dobbin filled in at right back, leaving Chris Crane as the only regular defender in the starting line-up.

“Nevertheless, we should have come away from Breda Park with something after they had a player sent off midway through the first half.

“After trailing 2-0, Gary Brown and Thomas Robinson levelled the scores and at that stage I fancied our chances, but another individual error allowed them to knock in the late winner.

“It was a disappointing result but we are still in contention for a place in the top six at the split. Although we are in eighth place we are only four points behind Loughgall in third position, so our target of a top half finish is still very much alive,” he stressed.

For the Welders visit, Flood, Wright and Woods will be available with fans hoping the losing sequence will come to an end before embarking on a difficult six match programme in December.