Tobermore withdrawal could help Reds

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Ballyclare Comrades Reserves have their eyes on a Ballymena league and cup double.

Poised nicely in second spot in Junior League Division 1, three points adrift of leaders Castle Star, but with three matches in hand, Stephen Hughes’ lads are favourites to land the title for the third consecutive season.

On Saturday they were scheduled to entertain Tobermore United Reserves in a league fixture, but the County Derry club has withdrawn from the league and this might work in Ballyclare’s favour.

“Their withdrawal will probably mean that the 13 points they have amassed will be wiped out, but that won’t affect us because we haven’t played them either home or away,” said Hughes.

“If, for instance, Castle Star have beaten them, they would be deducted three points, and that would be in our favour, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” he concluded.

This weekend the rampant Reds will be off to Antrim Forum grounds to take on Antrim Rovers in the semi-final of the Canada Trophy.

Rovers are one of the stronger Division 1 sides, and in an earlier encounter at the same venue the points were shared in a 2-2 draw, so this one will be hard to call.

Striker Mark Conn is the Reserves’ only injury concern, after limping off with a hamstring twinge in the previous match.

“Mark would have been on the bench against Tobermore, and would not have been used unless absolutely necessary,” said Hughes, “so I reckon that he should be OK for the cup semi-final.”

Meanwhile, last season’s regular goalkeeper, Warren McAllister, has transferred to Amateur League club, Woodvale, having lost his place to teenager Jonah Nicholl.

That means that Comrades Under-19 keeper, Dean Cochrane, is next in line to don the gloves.

For Saturday’s Canada Trophy semi-final, the Reserves are likely to select from: Nicholl, McIlwaine, Rainey (C), D McAllister, Cooper, Thompson, Crowe, Dougan, Todd, McMaster, McTaggart, Ellis, Conn, Apsley.