“It’s a big game, but every game is tough in this league.”
That’s the verdict of Whitey Anderson as his Ballinamallard United side prepare for a crucial Danske Bank Premiership derby in Stangmore Park this Saturday.
They might be scrapping it out at the wrong end of the table, but both sides come into the game on the back of encouraging wins on Monday evening.
Swifts earned a vital victory over Warrenpoint, while Ballinamallard took the points against a resurgent Portadown side in Ferney Park.
The sides are tied with 23 points each on the table, but Rodney McAree’s men have a game in hand and Ballinamallard know Saturday’s game could well play a crucial role in determining the final complexion of the foot of the table.
“Dungannon had a good win against Warrenpoint and we know it’s always tough up there,” said the Ballinamallard boss. “But we’re going into the game with confidence and they’re going into the game with confidence. The vast majority of games between ourselves and Dungannon have always been tight affairs and I don’t see it being any different on Saturday, but we’re certainly going up there looking for the win.
“It’ll be helter-skelter and plenty of commitment and I can’t see a lot more than a goal in it between either side, but hopefully we can do enough to get the result.”
It was the Swifts top scorer this season, Andy Mitchell, who bagged the only goal as Dungannon saw off Warrenpoint. Anderson is well aware of Mitchell’s scoring menace and he insists Stangmore won’t conceal too many surprises for either derby opponent.
“Andy Mitchell scored for Dungannon and he’s a threat, as a number of their players are. We know what to expect up there. They aren’t going to hit us with anything new. We know they’re a good footballing side and they’re going to be competitive at home.”
With this being Ballinamallard’s closest derby, there are certain Fermanagh Tyrone bragging rights at stake, but the Ballinamallard boss consigns those to very much secondary status.
“There’s nothing to brag about, so bragging rights don’t come into it, both teams are just looking three points,” said Anderson. “The only thing that me and Rodney McAree will be looking is three points and that’s the only thing we care about. It doesn’t matter who we play from now to the end of the season, the points are all that matters.
“Every point is vital and you have to scrap for every one you get. If you get a few wins it can make a big difference, but every point is going to make such a difference come the end of the season. And every goal could make a difference in terms of goal difference, so you have to fight for every goal and every point.”
Danske Bank Premiership
Dungannon Swifts v Ballinamallard United
Saturday, Stangmore Park, 3pm
26th December – Premiership
Ballinamallard United 1 Dungannon Swifts 1
Ballinamallard: Liam Martin, James McKenna 5.
Dungannon: Andrew Mitchell 8.
|LWWLW||Home < Form > Away||LDLLL|
|Last five results – oldest to most recent|
|30||Home < Average win % > Away||33.33|
|0.52||Average 1st half goals||0.33|
|0.68||Average 2nd half goals||0.67|
|0.72||Average 1st half goals conc||0.63|
|0.92||Average 2nd half goals conc||1.04|
|9||Games failed to score||9|
|24||1st half win percentage||14.81|
|24||2nd half win percentage||18.52|
|1||Average winning margin||0.8|
|1.71||Average losing margin||1.88|