Hot-shot striker Michael McLellan is out to set a Steel & Sons Cup record on Christmas morning.
The Harland & Wolff Welders striker has bagged an incredible 17 goals in the competition so far, including a remarkable nine-goal salvo in one game. If the former Preston North End trainee can find the net at Seaview tomorrow against Carrick Rangers he will set a new Steel & Sons Cup record, a competition that has been running for 119 years.
The Welders manager Gary Smyth can’t believe that Michael hasn’t already set the record, but he is confident he can add to his tally in tomorrow mornings final at Seaview.
“Michael has got 17 goals in the competition and amazingly he still needs one more to beat the record,” he said.
“I’d love to know who else scored 17 goals in five or six matches, it must have been about 1910 or something, when they didn’t bother with a defence.
“Michael is basically averaging three a game in this competition which is unreal in this day and age.
“It’s not just tap-ins either, he’s scored some superb goals and I know he’s capable of doing it in the final.
“But our aim isn’t to set personal records, it’s to win the cup.
“There’s no point in setting records if you’ve no medal at the end of it.”
McLellan will link up with his striker partner David Rainey, who was cleared to play in the final by the County Antrim FA.
Originally the Welders believe Rainey was ineligible as he was part of last year’s Glenavon squad that won the Irish Cup, but as he was an unused sub he’s been given the green light.
There was no such good news for Carrick Rangers. Their top goalscorer Miguel Chines will miss tomorrow’s Yuletide decider. The Portuguese-born forward is serving a one-match ban.
While Chines’ suspension is a blow for Carrick, manager Gary Haveron believe his absence could thrust somebody else into the limelight.
“Unfortunately Miguel Chines will be suspended for the final,” he said.
“If our game against Knockbreda on Saturday had been played then it would have cleared that suspension up, but it was postponed as Breda had to play their Intermediate Cup fixture.
“We tried to organise another league game but the clubs that weren’t already scheduled to play weren’t interested, which is understandable as they’re only looking out for their own clubs.
“It’s a real blow for us because Miguel is a real predator in and around the box, who has plenty of experience having played in this cup final before.
“But all it does is give somebody else the opportunity to be the hero. We’ve got decent strength and depth at this club for a reason.”
Tomorrow’s game will kick-off at 10.45am at Seaview, with the match played to a finish.
Earlier in the season, the Welders beat Carrick 3-0 at Tillysburn while to East Belfast side are six points ahead of the Carrickfergus club in Championship One.