Stephen Hughes: Ballyclare Comrades are ticking over nicely
At the end of the first round of Bluefin Sport Championship fixtures Ballyclare Comrades are well placed to secure a top six placing when the Split comes in February.
Undefeated Larne and Portadown, along with surprise packet Dundela, occupy the top three places and must be regarded as favourites for a podium finish, while Stephen Hughes’ lads are nicely tucked in behind ‘in fourth spot.
Comrades defensive frailty is exposed in the goals against column, which reveals that they have conceded more goals than any of their three main promotion contenders.
Larne are beginning to have a stranglehold on the number one spot, having opened up a four points’ gap, but Ballyclare manager Hughes remains upbeat.
“Following three defeats in September, we are ticking over nicely and are ticking most of the boxes for a top six placing at the Split,” he asserted.
“Even without Gary Brown, Curtis Woods, Jason Johnston, Paddy Flood and skipper John Dobbin we are holding our own in a highly competitive league. We have come through our poor spell, and other teams are likely to have their bad patch, so I am confident that we will achieve our number one objective of clinching a top six placing, but a top three finish is still in my agenda,” he confirmed.
Reflecting on the draw with Dundela, Hughes said, “I regard it as two points lost rather than one gained. We let them off the hook when we were two up. Both teams played good football so the fans were well entertained. I am happy with the brand of football we are playing, but we must tighten up at the back at set pieces.”