CHAMPIONSHIP: Point desperate for Premiership return

Stephen Murray scored two off the bench for Warrenpoint Town on Saturday. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye

Stephen Murray scored two off the bench for Warrenpoint Town on Saturday. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye

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Warrenpoint are a club with high expectations this season.

Even playing their part in a stonking 3-3 top-of-the-table draw with Ballyclare was far from satisfactory for boss Barry Gray.

It took a 94th minute equaliser from substitute Stephen Murray to keep Point top of the Championship.

Ballyclare, who began the day in second, looked to have won it when Dean Youle headed in his first of the season on 88 minutes.

At their Milltown ground, dropping points is not acceptable for the manager - who demands his side return to the Premiership at the first time of asking.

“We have a great squad but it’s an expensive squad,” he said. “They have the responsibility to the board to show their worth. Few Championship clubs are paying what we’re paying. That’s because we want to keep the players, given that this is hopefully a one year thing and we bounce back up.

“It’s easy to say that, we’ve all the work to do to make sure it’s reality.”

The impressive Corey McMullan twice put Ballyclare ahead in the first period to take his tally for the season to seven.

However, the league leaders are made of stern stuff. John McGuigan made it 1-1 with his fourth in two matches and nine minutes after coming off the bench, Murray tapped in for 2-2.

All that looked to be in vain when Youle nodded in but, after Point’s Liam McKenna was shown a straight red, Murray kept Point top.

“The boys weren’t electric but we were far from poor,” continued Gray. “That’s fine for a normal Championship side who have no aspirations of going anywhere. We need to take these games and tick them off one by one. That means winning them. On Saturday, we didn’t do that. We have to be frustrated and disappointed in that fact.

“Being good enough in a cup game against Premiership opposition here and there isn’t what we want. We’ve got to win the Championship to get us back to Premiership.”

He continued: “The way we set up and the way we play is for Premiership, not for Championship. When you come up against Championship sides, it’s very hard to adjust your mindset and your style of play.”