Harland and Wolff Welders boss Gary Smyth believes “anything is possible” in the Irish Cup.
The Welders are preparing for the visit of Ballymena United to Tillysburn on Saturday (1.30pm kick-off) for a massive quarter-final tie.
The two sides met in last season’s competition, with the Sky Blues scraping a 2-2 draw at the same venue before earning a 1-0 win in the replay.
Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson is aware of the pitfalls that lie in wait this afternoon, and Smyth hopes a shock is on the cards.
“Ballymena will understandably be big favourites for the tie,” said Smyth – who won four Irish Cups with three different clubs.
“They have proved their cup pedigree in recent seasons, and they are a Premiership side while we play in the Championship.
“But it is cup football, and it will all boil down to whoever performs on the day. If we rise to the challenge then anything is possible.
“A place in the semi-finals of the Irish Cup is up for grabs, so there is a massive incentive there.
“We have to go out and enjoy it. All the pressure is on Ballymena, but they know they’re going to be in for a scrap, so maybe we can surprise a few people.
“By all accounts it’s also the first time the Welders have reached the quarters, so it’s a huge day for the club.”
The Welders – who defeated Glenavon 2-0 in the previous round – will have to do it the hard way.
Smyth is without the services of four key players for the quarter-final tie.
Veteran striker David Rainey, defenders Philip Simpson and Dan McMurray are all suspended, while Scott McMillan is cup tied.
“It obviously doesn’t help having players of their calibre missing, but we won’t be using that as an excuse,” Smyth added.
“We have quality players who can come in, and it is a great opportunity for them. They should be champing at the bit.
“We are ready for a tough game on Saturday, but Ballymena should be prepared for the same.”
Saturday’s Irish Cup quarter-final ties: Crusaders v Carrick Rangers, Glentoran v Dungannon Swifts, Harland and Wolff Welders v Ballymena Utd, Portadown v Linfield.