IRISH LEAGUE: United skipper Jim Ervin wants Sky Blues to keep moving up

Ballymena's Jim Ervin in action with Linfield's Jordan Stewart
Ballymena's Jim Ervin in action with Linfield's Jordan Stewart

Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin will return after suspension to face Ards in the Danske Bank Premiership on Saturday afternoon.

Ervin missed last Saturday’s 3-0 win against Carrick Rangers at the Showgrounds.

That victory cemented United in sixth place after seventh placed Glentoran could only manage a 2-2 draw away to bottom placed side Ballinamallard United.

A top six finish is on Sky Blues boss David Jeffrey’s hit list and Ervin says United want to finish in the top six and that they are looking upwards instead of down the way.

“You want to get into that top six and we have Glentoran behind us by a couple of points but we are looking up at Cliftonville in fifth and we will be looking to close that gap.

“We want to close that gap and get as close to Cliftonville as we can.

“We are in a good run of form and we wan to keep that going as winning becomes a habit.”

This will be the fourth time the two sides have met this season - with United winning all of those encounters but Ervin says they are taking nothing for granted against Colin Nixon’s side.

“We have already played each other a few times this season and we know quite a bit about each other.

“And the games we have had with them in the past have been tight encounters and we are expecting the same again.

“It will be a tough game, but we are going down there looking to get as many points as we possible can.”

In recent days Ards have brought in Linfield striker Cameron Stewart on load until the end of the season.

Last week Ards manager Colin Nixon unveiled the signing of Luke Kelly from St Mochta’s, joining teenage Linfield Swifts duo Reece Neale and Timmy Brown in arriving at the club during the transfer window.

Ervin believes the new signings will add to the squad that Nixon has at the club.

“They have brought a few boys in and they have added quality in the shape of Cameron Stewart - who is a real handful. We know quite a bit about him after his time at Linfield.

“They have added to their squad, so they will think they are stronger than the last time we played them, so it should make for a good game. They will be up for it.”

Ards only lost 1-0 to Crusaders in the league last weekend when Stephen Baxter’s side scored right at the death to deny Nixon’s side a share of the spoils.

And the Ards manager makes no complaints of the way his side performed against the high flying Crues.

“It is what it is. They’re at the top of the league and we’re near the bottom.

“You should know exactly what sort of game to expect in those circumstances, we weren’t going to go to Seaview and roll over for them.

“We had a task to do, and to a man, we stuck to that task.

“I’m very proud of our players because they held their own and they produced a disciplined and brave performance.

“I honestly believe we deserved something from that game, but we now have to move on and get ready for the challenge of Ballymena.

“It will be a tight game and we are looking forward to it,” he added.