Ballyclare manager Eddie Hill is hoping his side can extend their unbeaten run to four games on the bounce when they travel to Tillysburn Park this weekend.
“We have pulled ourselves out of the losing rut and after our performance against Ards, the lads have no fears about taking on the Welders on their own patch,” said Hill.
“Gary Smyth, the former Glentoran stalwart, has assembled a good side with a blend of youth and experience and their league position confirms they will be title contenders, but we too have a strong squad.”
Reflecting on the 1-1 draw with Ards, Hill said: ”They came here as major title contenders, but we had them on the ropes before they pinched a point at the death.
“Randal Reid gave us the lead with a superb goal before retiring owing to feeling unwell. Reid has taken time to adjust to the higher level after coming up from the Ballymena League, but I was convinced he was a quality player and he has proved that by scoring in each of the last three matches and keeping Chris Trussell on the bench.
“I had to make one change with Johnny McClurg coming in for Simon McGowan, who had missed training because of family commitments. Thankfully we have a strong bench and the lads there are champing at the bit to get hold of one of the jerseys, so competition for places is red-hot.
“Once again our back four (Darren Doherty, Denver Gage, Adam McCart and Kyle Buckley) was solid, and they seemed all set to record their third clean sheet on the trot, until Paddy Flood was beaten by a late deflected shot.
“They defended well, especially from set-pieces, but we matched Ards player for player all over the park and the fans were well pleased with our performance.”
Ards match report and photos inside.