Glenn Ferguson turns his focus back to league matters

Ballymena goalkeeper Tim Allen
Ballymena goalkeeper Tim Allen

Ballymena United kept their season on track with last week’s dramatic late, late Irish Cup win at Cliftonville, but manager Glenn Ferguson is demanding a high intake of Danske Premiership points over the next series of matches.

The Sky Blues were brought down to earth with a midweek home defeat by Glentoran.

Ferguson wants a positive response when basement boys Institute make the journey to the Warden Street Showgrounds tomorrow.

It’s highly unlikely that the boys from the Braid will manage to sneak into the top six before the league ‘splits’, but points are still a priority.

“We must try to get some points on the board to help keep confidence high,” said Ferguson.

“We have an opportunity against Institute. But they’ll be coming here fighting for their lives because of the situation they are in.

“The cup victory has kept our season alive for the next few weeks, but we have important league games and we need to pick up points because teams below us like Dungannon and Ballinamallard have been doing that.

“Mathematically it’s not impossible to reach the top six, but it’s going to be very, very difficult.

“It’s about trying to get wins on the board and building momentum which we can then take into the cup quarter final.”

Ferguson is hoping that a battle for places for the cup game -- against H&W Welders on February 28 -- can have a knock-on effect on league performances. United have won only three of their last 18 fixtures.

“It’s great that we have competition for places with the new signings and everybody knows they have to be playing well to stay in the team,” he added.

“We have three or four league games before the cup quarter-final and that is our focus now.

“We had to leave four or five players out of the squad last weekend, which was great.

“Stuart Addis, Mark Surgenor, Davy Munster, Michael Ruddy and Matthew Shevlin didn’t even make the bench whereas earlier in the season, those five would probably have been starting.”

Ferguson has been delighted with the performance of new goalkeeper Tim Allen.

He added: “He did the business and looks good. But we will not be getting too carried away after a couple of games.”

Institute arrive at the Showgrounds still smarting from their Irish Cup defeat by Carrick Rangers last weekend.

Paul Kee’s side have lost, who are four points adrift at the bottom, have won two of 14 games away from home this season.