Glentoran’s visit to tackle Ards offers a road to both recovery and redemption for manager Gary Haveron and his squad.
Haveron has used this week’s training sessions and an under 20s fixture to rebuild and regroup in the aftermath of a bruising 3-0 reverse inflicted by Crusaders in front of Monday’s Sky Sports television cameras.
Having, as a result, lost the season’s unbeaten record at The Oval, the Glens boss is keen to get back on track with an improved performance in front of the away support.
“I will hold up my hands and admit I got it wrong on Monday by attempting to have a go against Crusaders,” said Haveron. “They proved too powerful for us and it emphasised how we have to get the selection right and the set-up right.
“We will learn from that lesson and the reality is Crusaders will be challenging for a title given the strength-in-depth on hand but we are aiming to secure a top-six position.
“We had a recovery session on Tuesday for those who played, with others on show for the under 20s.
“Some good performances by the under 20s will help give me food for thought for first-team selection and we have everyone fit and available going into Saturday.
“It is a different challenge and different approach for us this weekend.”
Haveron is anticipating a tough test against an Ards side bolstered by a 2-0 away-day success over Ballinamallard United.
“We are not as used to the 3G pitch and Ards come into the game off a return of points,” said the Glens boss. “They will be lifted by the Ballinamallard result after a slow start to the season.”
Ards boss Colin Nixon is keen to carry the free-scoring finish to that Ballinamallard United win into the first whistle against Glentoran.
Johnny Frazer and Michael McLellan found the net on, respectively, 84 and 90 minutes to seal a 2-0 victory - one of only three occasions in this season’s Danske Bank Premiership campaign in which Ards have secured a spot on the scoresheet.
“Late goals always give you an extra boost and we created plenty of chances over the course of the match,” said Nixon. “To get anything from Ferney Park is always a plus and goals have been hard to find so far this season.
“But some of the decisions which have gone against us I still struggle to understand and the scoreline does not always tell the true tale of a match.
“We have players who can put the ball in the net and against a team like Glentoran it could come down to one chance.
“Glentoran will be smarting from the Crusaders defeat but we need to push on following Ballinamallard.”
Full points placed Ards at the head of a four-strong pack including Carrick Rangers, Warrenpoint Town and Ballinamallard United tipped to face a battle to beat the drop.
“I keep hearing that but our idea is to be looking above not below,” said Nixon. “The Ballinamallard win offered an away success and clean sheet.
“We want to use that as a shot in the arm moving forward.”