Reds on a roll

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BALLYCLARE Comrades’ stunning winning streak of nine league games on the bounce faces a serious test today when they travel to Glebe Rangers.

The Ballymoney outfit shared the points earlier in the season at Dixon Park and they are in contention for a Championship Two podium finish, so the Reds’ manager Eddie Hill is under no illusions about the tough test ahead.

“Without doubt Glebe should be the most difficult assignment we have faced since we started our winning run,” he told the Times.

“They brought a big, strong physical side to Dixon Park and we had to battle hard to get a draw. I believe that like ourselves they have strengthened their squad during the January transfer window, so we will have to be giving 100 per cent commitment to come home with three points.

“We are now finding that since we have shot up the table to second spot, teams are going all out to turn us over, so as I’ve said before every match is like a cup final.

“Thankfully, we will be back to almost full strength except for skipper Ricky Higgins who has groin and knee problems, and Gerard McAlea who has one more match suspension. But I am confident we have enough firepower to see us through.

“Eighteen goals in the past three matches confirm that we are the form team. Chris Shimmon has been great up front with nine goals already since joining us from Bangor.

“Johnny McClurg and Andy Simms have also been hitting the target regularly, but against Portstewart I was especially happy to record our first clean sheet for several weeks.

“Last time out I was disappointed that we conceded two goals to bottom team Chimney Corner, so we worked on that aspect of our play in training and I am happy that it paid off.

“Against Portstewart we were never stretched. On a heavy pitch it was difficult to move the ball around as we normally do, but our 4-4-1-1 formation paid off. Adam Gray slotted in behind Shimmon and they played off each other very well, and they grabbed three of our four goals.”

“Since returning from a short spell with Larne, Simms has scored in each of the last three matches, and with Kyle Agnew and Johnny McClurg also getting amongst the goals recently we have been scoring from all over the park.”

Hill also has Kyle Buckley, Andrew Doyle and Gary Brown returning from suspension so he will have a strong side to choose from ahead of Saturday’s match.

Meanwhile, dates for two rearranged league fixtures have been finalised for April, with Armagh City coming to Dixon Park on Tuesday 23, followed by a trip to PSNI on Saturday 27.