Ballymena United captain Allan Jenkins has set his sights on reeling in derby rivals Coleraine as the race to finish in the top six gathers pace.
Tuesday night’s late win over Glentoran saw the Sky Blues boost their prospects of finishing in the top half this season.
Tony Kane bagged a wonder goal in the last minute to snatch all three points at the Oval, while Coleraine were on the receiving end of a 5-1 hammering to Ballinamallard United.
Tuesday’s results mean Ballymena are now only six points behind the Bannsiders – and they can boast a game in hand.
And for skipper Jenkins, there is now an added impetus to United’s season as they approach the split.
“People seemed to be thinking that the rest of our season hinged on the Irish Cup, but we have ambitions of reaching the top six,” he said.
“At the start of the season Glenn (Ferguson) targeted a trophy and finishing in the top six. We have won the County Antrim Shield, so now we are setting our sights on the top six.
“We are six points outside the top half of the table, but if we win our game in hand then we will only be three points behind Coleraine.
“That is a massive incentive and it has fired up the lads.”
Ballymena’s success against Glentoran on Tuesday shouldn’t have come as a major surprise – the away team have won 10 out of the last 13 fixtures between the two sides.
“It is an amazing statistic, and we went into the game full of confidence,” Jenkins added.
“We won the Shield final at the Oval so it is a decent venue for us. Glentoran were maybe missing a couple of their more experienced lads, but I thought we showed a lot of spirit to come away with the win.
“Tony’s goal at the end was a screamer. I was making my way to the back post with Liggy (Gary Liggett) but Tony just had a go from 30 yards. It flew into the top corner.
“When he was lining it up I was thinking to myself ‘what are you doing, Tony?’. But I suppose he made the right decision in the end.
“We have been trying to find some television footage of it, so hopefully it hasn’t been missed because it was a special one for Tony.
“I am sure he will dine out on it for a while, but he deserves to.”
Jenkins believes momentum will be a major factor in Ballymena’s league quest this season.
“It definitely will. We need to try and go on a wee run of games where we pick up points,” the Scottish midfielder said.
“We were on the other side recently when we only picked up one point from seven games or something. We were stuck in a rut and we dropped a lot of valuable points.
“That’s football, but when you look at some of the games you realise that we should probably already be in the top six. We have given ourselves some work to do to achieve that now, but the boys have been lifted by recent results.”