Ballymena United hurt after Glentoran mauling, says Alexander Gawne as Sky Blues prepare for another tough assignment against Linfield

Ballymena United winger Alexander Gawne knows the Braidmen can ill-afford to have a repeat performance from their defeat to Glentoran as they visit Linfield this afternoon.
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Sky Blues boss Jim Ervin claimed his players "threw the towel in" during the defeat at The Oval as they found themselves 4-0 down at the break, with David Fisher adding a fifth early in the second-half.

That loss meant United slipped to 11th in the table and are only ahead of bottom-placed Newry City on goal difference.

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Ervin's troops are currently embarking on a difficult run of fixtures as they face Larne next weekend, before a trip to Newry City in a relegation six-pointer.

Ballymena United ace Alexander Gawne (right) is expecting a reaction from Linfield after their previous home defeat to LarneBallymena United ace Alexander Gawne (right) is expecting a reaction from Linfield after their previous home defeat to Larne
Ballymena United ace Alexander Gawne (right) is expecting a reaction from Linfield after their previous home defeat to Larne

"It's going to be another tough game," Gawne said of the trip to lock horns with David Healy's side.

"We need to certainly be better than what happened against Glentoran but I'm excited to go to Windsor Park and compete against one of the best teams in the country.

"We started quite well against Glentoran but once they scored around 20 minutes, we fell apart for a 10 to 15-minute spell and they killed the game off.

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"It doesn't matter who you play against because if you give team chances, then you're going to concede goals and Glentoran certainly have good players in attacking positions."

Prior to the defeat in east Belfast, Ervin remarked that his players had produced better performances in battles against top six opposition than those in and around them in the table.

Whilst agreeing with his manager's viewpoint, Gawne is expecting a reaction from the Blues after their defeat to Larne at Windsor Park last time out.

He added: "I would agree with Jim in terms of performances because we played really well away to Crusaders but failed to take our chances.

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"A lot was documented about our difficult start to the season but we weren't blown away by any of the teams in those opening five or six games.

"The loss at Glentoran was probably the first time we were dominated by a so-called top six team.

"Linfield aren't going to want another team coming to their ground and taking points off them after their loss to Larne, so we know what to expect.

"They will be looking to pick up another three points and continue their challenge for the league, which means we have to prepare for that."

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Gawne signed for Ballymena in the summer from derby rivals Coleraine in a move that saw David McDaid move in the opposite direction.

It meant the 22-year-old linked-up with Ervin once again after playing with the Ballymena chief during his time at Carrick Rangers.

"It certainly made it easier coming to Ballymena knowing and playing with Jim,” he continued.

"I knew a lot of the players beforehand and it’s a really good changing room.

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"I’m getting a lot minutes which I probably haven’t in previous years.

“I’m completing a lot of 90 minutes which has been a major advantage as it has certainly improved my fitness and shows I have that in the locker.”

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