It’s ‘Fortress Dixon Park’ for Comrades

Comrades boss Eddie Hill (left) with his assistant, Gary Bell.
Comrades boss Eddie Hill (left) with his assistant, Gary Bell.

It’s still ‘Fortress Dixon’, after the Comrades extended their undefeated league run to 16 on the spin with last weekend’s 2-2 draw with the Welders.

Eddie Hill’s lads finished last season with a triumphant promotion flourish with an unbeaten home run of seven, and now at Championship 1 level, the Reds have chalked up another nine.

The only blemish is the defeat by Glentoran in the League Cup, so the Comrades are on a high with a Steel and Sons Cup semi-final on the horizon.

Hill was in buoyant mood following Saturday’s hard-earned point with the Welders.

“We had three very tough matches in succession,” he reflected, “and after having seen off Bangor in the Steel Cup, and Larne in the league, I was more than pleased to secure a draw with the Welders.

“They are never too far away when the silverware is being handed out, and we had to battle hard to get anything from the game.

“We suffered an early blow when Ricky Higgins had to come off after three minutes with a groin strain, but big Adam Gray proved to be a revelation up front with Chris Trussell.

“The Welders had two big central defenders, but Chris and Adam gave them something to think about, and Chris kept his cool to round the keeper and open the scoring with the defenders expecting an offside decision, but the official linesman was directly in line, and his flag stayed down.”

Asked about team selection, Hill added: “With skipper Andrew Doyle and Stuart McClean serving one-match suspensions, we had Evan Forsythe and Simon McGowan as ready-made replacements, so that didn’t affect our shape.

“Chris Monteith had been unable to train on Tuesday owing to a back spasm, so he was on the bench, but Darren Doherty again was a straight replacement with like for like at right-back.

“After going in one down, the Welders set sparks flying in the second half when we played second fiddle for a spell.

“They forged ahead, but I was delighted with the never-say-die attitude of the lads when they went behind. Sleeves were rolled up, and they stuck to the task and managed to salvage an important point when Simon McGowan dispatched the late penalty.

“We haven’t lost in the league at Dixon Park this season, but we have not been so dominant on the road. We got nothing from our trips to Bangor and Dundela, so we will have to redouble our efforts on Saturday when we go to New Grosvenor Park for a clash with Lisburn Distillery,” he contended.

The Whites are just ahead of the Reds in the Championship 1 league table. They have scored more goals, but the Comrades have a better defensive record, so the scene is set for another closely contested battle.

Asked about Monday’s (November 18) Steel and Sons Cup semi-final tie with Immaculata under the Seaview floodlights, Hill added: “Let’s get the points wrapped up against Distillery, before we begin to even think about the cup!”