Stalwart Ballinamallard United defender Emmett Friars has called for players and supporters to pull out all the stops as the club faces into a make or break Danske Bank Premiership clash with Carrick Rangers this Saturday.
“What’s gone before now, good or bad, is irrelevant,” said the 30-year-old defender. “It’s in our own hands, it’s down to one game. As it stands it’s probably the biggest game that any of us have played in, myself included. It’s the biggest game in the club’s history.
“You can’t beat around the bush, the pressure’s on both teams, especially for us being away from home. We need to step up and look after ourselves and I think we’re more than capable of doing that. We’ll be well prepared.”
Carrick have caused Ballinamallard more than their fair share of problems this year with Carrick winning two and drawing one of the three games the sides have played this season. Friars acknowledges it will take an unstinting display of focused concentration to forge a result in Taylors Avenue.
“They’ve got good players, there’s no doubt about that. They’ve got a far better squad than their position in the league would suggest. They’re similar to ourselves in that respect. But they’ve got guys in their team who are experienced, smart footballers and coming into Saturday you just can’t switch off.
“They are definitely a threat with [Miguel] Chines and Adam Salley, and the truth is they’ve been too good for us most times we’ve played them this year. We’ve got to address that. We’re under no illusions heading there about what we need to do, which is probably a good thing. We’re not going to there thinking that we’re a better side than them.
“We’ve got ourselves into a position where we can look after ourselves and we need to do that. It’s such a big game, it means so much to people.
“Lack of concentration is not an excuse for getting caught, particularly if you happen to be on top in a game. We’ve got to be on it 100 percent, it’s happened during the season where we’ve switched off for a few seconds, but the importance of Saturday should mean everyone is tuned in.”
“Ballinamallard’s defence has been one of their great strengths this season and with 32 appearances under his belt this year Emmett Friars has played a major role in that solidity. However while the rangey defender has had a good year personally, he recognised there is no arguing with the table. That’s something he is eager to do about this Saturday
“It’s a hard one. I’ve really enjoyed my football. I’ve played pretty much every minute I’ve been available, bar suspension. I feel I’ve done well at times, but at the same time I look at the bigger picture and our league position says I could have done better. That’s how I look at it.
“I give it my all every week, I’ll run through a brick wall for whoever I’m playing for, but the results haven’t been what I’d been hoping for. We’ve conceded a lot of late goals. It isn’t a case of playing for 90 minutes, we need to play for 96 or 97 minutes because we’ve conceded that many late goals in the season we would have been in the top half.
“I enjoy playing with the boys in the club and I really want play my part in keeping the club up now. There’s no doubt the club deserves to be there because the facilities, the fans and they way things are done are just top class.”