Niall’s Currie’s Ards will attempt to bridge a 30 year gap when his team walk out at Windsor Park against Linfield on Saturday.
The County Down side haven’t won at the international venue since February 8, 1986, so they face a daunting challenge of they to pinch three Danske Premiership points.
It was goals from Jim Campbell and Ronnie Mudd that sealed victory on that momentous occasion. It’s now asking a lot for a repeat in the team’s first year back in the top flight.
Ards, however, have made an impressive start to life in the big league - they fell to only their third defeat of the campaign when narrowly edged out by Ballinamallard United last week.
“We were victims of a slow start,” said Currie, who will be again without centre-back Johnny Taylor, while midfielder Kyle Cherry is a doubtful starter. On the plus side Gareth Tommons returns from suspension with David McAllister and Craig McMillan due back from injury.
“Our performance deserved a point at Ballinamallard. But going 2-0 down gave us a mountain to climb. We now face a massive face a massive job against the Blues.
“They are one of the form teams and are unbeaten. We must take heart from our performances - even in defeat. We have been beaten by the odd-goal on three occasions . . . no team has turned us over. We’ll go to Windsor with a good work ethic, which we have been doing in every game.”
Blues boss David Healy, happy with his team’s 4-0 Shield win over Donegal Celtic in midweek, is expecting another trying afternoon.
“Ards are at the top end of the table,” he said. “They have made an impressive step up from the Championship. I watched them last week at Ballinamallard . . . they gave it a right go. They all work hard for their manager.
“They are a tight little group . . . they have good players. Niall brought in a lot of experienced heads over the summer . . . some of boys who know what the Irish League is all about.
“We have to turn up with the right attitude. Windsor Park is a great stadium, it’s a big pitch, so we should be going out and expressing ourselves on our home ground.
Healy has pleaded to the Linfield fans to get behind the team.
He added: “The fans are like myself . . . I like a little moan at times when things don’t go the way I had hoped. But the players appreciate their support and backing -- both at home and away.
“It could be one of those games that Ards come to Windsor and ‘sit-in’ and hope to hit us on the break. If that’s the case then we have to show a bit of patience. If the fans keep backing the players, then hopefully we can deliver on the pitch.”
Healy took the chance to revamp his squad in midweek, drafting in a number of ‘fringe’ players, including summer signing Cameron Stewart.
“Cameron had a couple of little niggly injuries at the start of the season,” added Healy. “He’s a big lad and will give us a few other options. His fitness will improve with the more games he gets. I was pleased with the win and happy to be in the next round (of the Shield)."