It is unknown how much stock Dungannon Swifts boss Kris Lindsay puts into the idea of ghosts of Christmas past or future but preparations for the present task of facing Warrenpoint Town certainly come with the hope of festive cheer.
The Swifts’ previous meeting with Warrenpoint resulted in a dramatic 4-3 reverse which sparked 10 successive defeats across October, November and early December over multiple fronts.
With the January transfer window on the horizon and players’ futures open to speculation, the Swifts host basement side Warrenpoint aiming to stop the rot. Lindsay, in his first position as first-team manager, accepts that speculation will naturally extend to the dug-out.
However, in pursuit of a welcome break to help arrest the decline, Lindsay is urging a squad of players drained of confidence to ignore affairs beyond control and focus on the immediate task.
“All we can think about is Saturday and how to get the result we want,” said Lindsay, who helped steer the side to four wins and a draw from the opening five Danske Bank Premiership tests. “I’m loathe to continue to highlight the issue as it seems about mentality more than anything, but we must find a way to produce a 90-minute performance rather than the 45, 50 or 60 minutes so far.
“I’m not naive enough to think everything is rosy and accept this is a results business and this horrendous run shows the results are not good enough.
“We are in a dogfight and need to change form which has been this way for a long time.
“There is no point looking ahead to what might happen in the future, it can only be about the bottom line of picking up a result against Warrenpoint.
“There is quality in this squad and our early-season form helps confirm that to be the case but confidence is low and we need the situation to turn around but only we can achieve that goal.
“If you look at the league table, we sit three points behind both Glenavon and Ballymena United and it is so congested across the division this season.
“That opens up the door to the fact one win can allow us to build and very quickly you can find things changing towards another good run.”
Barry Gray is wary of the threat Dungannon Swifts may pose as underdogs in terms of form. Gray suffered three successive defeats following his arrival as a replacement for Stephen McDonnell - now he hits the road to Stangmore Park celebrating high-profile wins over Coleraine and Ballymena United and a spirited performance against Crusaders.
“I’ve never had an easy game away to Dungannon across my career and certainly the message to my players will be to forget form and realise our only hope of coming away with anything has to be the same foundation of hard work and togetherness no matter the opposition,” said Gray. “You can never tell the exact mindset of what is going on at another club but certainly we can relate to the situation to a degree.
“It is to our players’ credit how they are building the understanding of what we are asking.
“Our approach will be to focus on how recent results have given us the opportunity to close the gap on a Dungannon side with plenty of quality.”