IRISH LEAGUE: Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin issues rallying cry to United

Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin
Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin

Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin insists the Sky Blues are ready to kick-on in the Danske Bank Premiership as they face Cliftonville at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.

United have not made the start to the season they would have hoped for as they were hammered on the opening day by Crusaders - before drawing with Carrick Rangers - and they shipping more goals in a 6-1 defeat to Glenavon at the Showgrounds.

There were signs of improvement in the 1-0 defeat to Linfield at Windsor Park before beating Knockbreda in the League Cup.

The Reds have also had a mixed start to the season - they have won one, drawn one and lost two - but Erwin knows they are in for a battle against Barry Gray’s side.

“It will be another tough game on Saturday - but then all the games in this division are tough.

“Our start to the season could have been better - but we had a tough run of games.

“Crusaders, Linfield, Carrick and Glenavon is not an easy start but we should have done better,

“We did well against Linfield last weekend and then had a good win against Knockbreda which will help us get up and running.” said Erwin.

And the former Linfield defender believes they were hard done by against the Blues last weekend.

“We worked very hard and they had lots of the ball but you expect that at Windsor.

“It was a penalty but we had a player (Cathair Friel) fouled at the halfway line right before the penalty was given.

“And the sending-off of Andrew Burns was also hard to take as he had been fouled seconds before and should have been awarded a free-kick.”

And Erwin says United will recover from their slow start to the campaign.

“You don’t win anything in August and in the first 15 league games there is usually little between the sides and all the games and close and tough.

“And I expect this season to be the same. We want to get a result against Cliftonville and kick-on,” added Erwin.

And Cliftonville boss Barry Gray was pleased with his side’s 4-0 win against Banbridge Town in the League Cup during the week,

“A clean sheet and four goals for, it could have been more but it was a professional performance.

“That was the key highlight for me – it was professionally executed.

“We highlighted to the players and they delivered exactly what they were asked to do so full credit.

“The important thing was the strikers getting in amongst the goals, both have done that. Things aren’t working perfectly well for Joe Gormley at the minute but he’s working hard and things will come.

“We’ve ticked the boxes, we done it professionally and that’s the key thing.

“I said I won’t sign players just for the sake of it. I’ll sign them in areas that we think that the player can do well. Rory Donnelly fits that , no doubt about that.”