IRISH LEAGUE: Strugglers ready for relegation battle

Mark Surgenor
Mark Surgenor
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Something must give at Ferney Park on Saturday!

Ballinamallard United roll out the welcome mat for Carrick Rangers in what could be billed as a relegation battle - even at this early stage of the Danske Bank Premiership campaign.

Gavin Dykes’ Mallards have a six-point cushion over their rivals to fall back on - although both teams have benefited from Portadown’s 12-point deduction at the start of the campaign.

And, even though the Ports appeared to claw their way back to zero points last week, they again lost ground after fielding Robert Garrett in the win over Ards when the player was supposedly banned.

"It's a massive match for both clubs," admitted Carrick Rangers utility man Mark Surgenor. "It's really a game we need to win . . . a must-win scenario.

"Ballinamallard have an advantage over us because they have points on the board, whereas we haven't. But signs have been good in recent weeks - although we are still seeking our first league win since beating Glentoran back in August.

“Our performances haven't been all that bad, . . there have been a lot of positives.

“We were beaten by Glenavon, but it could have finished 6-6; we then lost at Crusaders and last Saturday we battled well against Glentoran.

"Hopefully, we are going in the right direction.

“But we now come up against a team in the same position as ourselves. We'll certainly be taking nothing for granted, but victory would give everyone a much-needed boost."