The journey to Knockbreda this weekend should hold no fears for Ballyclare Comrades, having beaten them twice last season, writes George Brown.
The Belfast side pipped Comrades for the Championship 2 title, but the Reds also went up as runners-up following a blistering seven straight wins finish.
Both have settled in well at the higher level with only three points separating them in mid-table, so a keen contest is in prospect.
Under former Carrick Rangers favourite, Hugh Sinclair, Knockbreda will start favourites especially at Breda Park, where Chines and Young have been scoring freely, so Paddy Flood and his defenders could be in for a busy afternoon.
“They have a big open ground, and they play neat football so we are looking forward to this one,” said Reds’ boss Eddie Hill.
“Thankfully the only injury worry I have is Andy Simms who is recovering slowly from a thigh complaint, so there should be no team selection worries.”
Reflecting on the 2-0 Intermediate Cup win in Portstewart, Hill said that there was never any doubt about advancing to the next round.
“I don’t remember ever playing in such a strong wind - Paddy Flood’s goal kicks were coming straight back to him in the first half, - and an exposed bumpy pitch didn’t help matters,” he stated.
“The lads did well to keep a clean sheet in the first half against the elements; then we were in total control in the second half and should have won more convincingly.
“I took the opportunity away from the league campaign to try something new, with young Marc Rainey coming up from the Reserves to play at centre-back, where he turned in an impressive performance.
“Joel Cooper is another one for the future, and he got some game time from the bench, so these outings with the senior side will send out a message to the younger players that there is a future for them at Dixon Park,” he added.
Meanwhile, striker Ricky Higgins has left the Comrades by mutual consent.
“Ricky’s shift work limited his opportunities for training, so he has opted to move on,” said Hill.
“He gave me 100 per cent when he was available, and I thank him for his services to the Comrades, and we split on the best of terms,” he confirmed.