Warren Feeney wary of Ballymena United response to cup defeat

Linfield manager Warren Feeney
Linfield manager Warren Feeney

Warren Feeney is demanding three points from his ailing Linfield team in Saturday’s Danske Premeirship clash against Ballymena United at Windsor Park.

The Blues have dramatically dropped off the pace at the top of the table.

Even though they still occupy second spot and have a game in hand, they still find themselves trailing Crusaders by six points.

There was no disguising the disappointment from their latest setback.

A 1-1 draw at struggling Ballinamallard United was hardly the morale boosting result a team that has now taken only two points over the month of January was craving for.

“We looked like a side that hadn’t played for a couple of weeks,” said Feeney, referring from his team’s lack of games -- their previous competitive fixture was the Irish Cup win over Tobermore on January 10.

“We got ourselves into a great position (at Ballinamallard), but just couldn’t see out the game. It came back to bite us. What disappointed me is the fact that we didn’t create a great deal of chances. We were poor throughout the 90 minutes.

“It was a bad night at the office. Ballinamallard were well worth a draw.”

Feeney acknowledges his boys cannot afford to dwell on another below-par performance against Glenn Ferguson’s Sky Blues, who are coming off the back of a League Cup final defeat by Cliftonville.

“They will be coming to Windsor looking for a result and it won’t be easy,” added Feeney.

“Knowing Spike, he’ll have them fired up. But I’m more interested in what we have to do to get the three points. At the end of the day, it was still a point gained in midweek.

“We are second in the table, but we want to be up there at the top. There is still a long way to go. We have got back to winning ways quickly.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is nothing easy in this league.”

Feeney will assess the fitness of new defender Glenn Belezika, who sustained an ankle injury at Ballinamallard.

Mark Haughey and Jimmy Callacher may also come into the manager’s plans.

United gaffer Ferguson, buoyed by the signing of defender Paddy McNally, will add Gary McCutcheon and Eamon McAllister to his panel. Both were cup-tie last weekend.

“They’ll give us an added boost, along with the signing of McNally,” said Ferguson.

“I’m sure Linfield will want to get to erase the memory of the midweek result, but we can’t afford to turn in another poor first half display as we did against Cliftonville.

“I was thrilled they way we battled back after the break . It showed the character we have in the team. I also thought a few decisions went against us on the day . I reckon we were denied a stonewall penalty.

“But that’s now gone. We’ve now got to repeat that type of performance we produced in the second half to get us up the table in this league.”