Ulster Elks face ‘must-win’ game against Ballymoney

Ulster Elks coach Ricky Lee
Ulster Elks coach Ricky Lee

The Ulster Elks have a must win game on Saturday against Ballymoney but coach Ricky Lee isn’t fooled by the Premier League table.

Money may be languishing in the lower reaches but they are actually one of the form teams having suffered only one defeat in their last six matches.

And that was a close call as they went down 1-0 to mighty Pegasus at the Joey Dunlop Centre , the venue for Saturday’s clash.

Lee believes his team are still very much in the title race although he accepts that defeat tomorrow would be a potentially fatal blow.

The Jordanstown side are still table toppers but they are just a point ahead of Ards, who have two games in hand.

Pegasus aren’t out of contention either as they sit in third place four points behind the Elks, also with two games fewer played.

But Elks coach Lee knows full well that ‘Money will be tough nut to crack tomorrow and he is therefore guarding against complacency.

“They are a good side and have been improving all the time after a bad start so we are expecting a really tough game up there on Saturday.” he said.

“They have a lot of experienced players in their squad like Bridget Cleland, Nikki Parkes and Julie Nelson to name just three.

“I remember last season when we went up there we were 3-0 down before we knew it and they eventually beat us 5-3 so that proves how difficult it’s going to be.

“In terms of the league so far, from our point of view it’s good to have points on the board even though we’ve played more games than our two main rivals.

“You also have to look at who has played whom and we have now played Ards twice and Pegasus once whereas Ards and Pegasus have yet to meet in the league so far so something will have to give.

“But other teams are capable of taking points off the top three as we have already seen this season so it’s far too early to say how it’s going to pan out.”

To illustrate Lee’s point, Belfast Harlequins have taken points off Pegasus and his own team dropped two in a draw with Ballymoney.

In Saturday’s other top flight games, Ards will be expected to overcome Lisnagarvey at Comber Road while champions Pegasus should have too much in the tank for Queen’s at Upper Malone.

The students have a major doubt over Hannah McMillan, who managed only a few minutes in Saturday’s win over Harlequins due to an ankle injury, while first choice goalkeeper Ashley McIlroy is out through work commitments.

In the other top flight games, Harlequins entertain Randalstown and Lurgan meet derby rivals Portadown while Ireland start their three-test series with Spain in Valencia with games tomorrow and Sunday.

Six Ulster players are in the squad and national coach Darren Smith is using the series as part of the build up to the World league 2 tournament, which is the first phase of the Olympic qualifying process.