Dean Smith drawing encouragement from rivals in Loughgall’s search for cup shock
Loughgall manager Dean Smith is dreaming of masterminding an Irish Cup upset when the Championship club’s coronavirus-disrupted season will stretch to a second fixture this weekend.
With the pandemic resulting in Loughgall’s league campaign declared null-and-void and elite status securing the green light only in connection to Irish Cup ties, Smith and his players now host Warrenpoint Town having last weekend knocked out Banbridge Town.
Smith admits encouragement from the impressive performance levels produced in the first round by clubs outside the top flight against Premiership sides - with the ultimate reward of a cup shock still on the cards.
“We know when playing against Premiershp clubs it has to come down to a big performance by us and an off-day for them...but I look at the draw and feel there could be one or two shocks,” said Smith. “All we can control is our own situation of course and it has to be about finding a way to reduce the gap on a Premiership club with a full season of training and games behind them compared to us with last weekend’s tie the first competitive match played in over a year.
“But when you see how the other clubs outside the Premiership performed it has to give you encouragement...we certainly didn’t see the massive scorelines some might have predicted.
“We must raise the standard on what the players produced against Banbridge otherwise it could be a big defeat but, hopefully, now having found our feet, we can deliver the standard I know they are capable of this Saturday.
“You hope the demands of so many intensive fixtures and playing three times a week in the Premiership will lead to some tired legs for Warrenpoint but, of course, the flip side is they have the match sharpness.
“We are just delighted to have another game and at home.”
Ten-man Loughgall secured first-round success over Banbridge Town on a penalty shoot-out.
“Against Warrenpoint, if it’s not to be on the day then let’s not make it down to perfornance or effort,” said Smith following the win. “Let’s not hand Warrenpoint anything...that’s what we will focus on.
“But we’ve also got to think of the other side and learn as Banbridge will probably be going home disappointedthey didn’t utilise the extra man.”
IRISH CUP: Ballymena United v PSNI, Carrick Rangers v Bangor, Dergview v St James’ Swifts, Knockbreda v Crusaders, Larne v Dollingstown, Linfield v Dungannon Swifts, Loughgall v Warrenpoint Town (3pm); Glentoran v Cliftonville (5.30)
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