BALLYMENA United boss Glenn Ferguson is refusing to get swept away by the hype and emotion surrounding Saturday’s derby showdown with Coleraine.
The fierce fixture is a popular meeting for fans of both clubs – where victory is also paramount.
Ferguson is no stranger to derby fever, having played in countless Big Two clashes during his time at Linfield.
“There was a big build-up to the Linfield-Glentoran games, and there has been a lot said about this game. But at the end of the day there are only three points at stake,” Ferguson said.
“It is the same as any other game in that we want to win. It obviously means more to the supporters who want the bragging rights, and the players feed off that.
“But as manager, I just want a good performance and three points. So we prepare as if it is any other game.”
Coleraine have enjoyed a stellar start to the season, with Oran Kearney’s men sitting second in the Premiership table.
Ballymena remain just four points adrift of their arch enemies as they look to cement their place in the top half of the table.
Ferguson admits friendship will be out to one side when he goes up against former Linfield team-mate Kearney, who has impressed since taking up the Coleraine reins in January last year.
“Oran is a good friend and is doing a fantastic job at Coleraine, but for 90 minutes that is set aside,” Ferguson said.
“They have lost just once this season so they will be tough to beat. We just have to try and create some chances and take one or two.
“We know what we are capable of but we need to turn up on the day and produce the goods.
“It’s going to be a tough game for us, make no mistake about that.
“We have a tough run of fixtures coming up but we can raise our game. We have proved that already this season.”
Ferguson is hoping to have James Costello available soon – the striker is recovering from a thigh injury.
“James played 45 minutes for the Reserves in midweek and has been to the gym a couple of times to work on strengthening his thigh muscle,” Ferguson said.
“When we get him back he will provide another option.”