Lochside Garage

Ducks desperate for points against buoyant Coleraine

Ballinamallard’s stand in keeper James McKenna in action

Ballinamallard haven’t been getting much in the way of luck this season, but Saturday was something of a bullet dodged for the Ferney Park men. Ballymena Showgrounds were ruled unplayable last Tuesday and so the Braidmen’s league semi-final clash with Cliftonville was shifted to Saturday, forcing the postponement of Ballinamallard’s Premiership fixture.
“We were lucky at the weekend,” said Mallards boss Gavin Dykes. “If we had a game we would have been struggling for a team because everybody at the club has flu at the moment. An awful lot of the players are struggling so that worked out alright for us.
“We can regroup now and we have a big one this Friday night against Coleraine. It’s a big challenge, but our home form has been pretty good and we’re looking forward to it and we’ll be focused.”
The Mallards have faced a fairly hostile fixture schedule this season with plenty of long trip on Tuesdays and Fridays. Dykes is happy to have week-night home comforts for once, but insists it is essential his side make the advantage count.
“We had to go to Coleraine on a Tuesday night earlier in the season, so we know what the journey was like. We won’t fear them.
They’re a good side I think Oran [Kearney] has done a fantastic job and has strengthened as well in the transfer window. It’s going to be a big ask but we’re looking forward to it.”
Only Linfield have managed to keep more clean sheets than Coleraine this season, 13 to the Bannsiders 12. Breaching the visiting defence will be a tall order, but Dykes believes his side is better equipped for that task now and it confident of taking points off the title challengers
“They’ll know we’re a threat going forward, and we are,” said the Ducks boss. “We’ve a lot of pace in the team now and we are creating chances. We’ve scored goals in our last few games so hopefully we can continue that and defensively we’ll be a wee bit better. We’ll be missing Brush and Kee who are suspended so they’ll be a loss to us, but we just have to get on with it.”
The loss of key players like Brush and Kee won’t make life any easier against Coleraine. Dykes cause isn’t helped either by Stuart Hutchinson’s on-going injury issues which will leave him touch and go for Friday.
A further fly in the ointment came with Carrick slotting four past Ards on Saturday to make the most of one of their two games in hand on Ballinamallard. That opens up a four point gap to the play-off place with games starting to run out.
“We can only control what we do,” said Dykes. “We can’t be worrying about other people’s results. If we don’t win enough football matches we get relegated, it’s as simple as that. We’ve got to start picking up points.
“Whatever Carrick or anybody else does, we have 11 games and we need to pick up points to get to where we want to get to and we’ll be looking to start picking them up come Friday night.”

The Mallards go into their 11th game of the season tomorrow (Saturday) against Carrick still winless.

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