Larne boss McAlinden knows Ballyclare are hard to beat

Eddie Hill and Davy McAlinden

Eddie Hill and Davy McAlinden

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A big crowd is expected at Inver Park this evening for the Championship 1 derby clash between Larne and Ballyclare Comrades - and it’s something of a revenge mission for the home team, still smarting from the outcome last time they met.

“Ballyclare are hard to beat, as we found out when we went up there in the Irish Cup just after I took charge of the team and they hammered us 4-1, so we know what to expect,” stated Inver manager, Davy McAlinden.

“It will be a tough test for us, but I am happy with the way things are going and we are heading in the right direction in terms of the league, having three more welcome points on Saturday on the long trip to Castlederg,” added McAlinden, who, by his own admission, doesn’t look too much at the points table.

“I’m not one for studying the league table because we can become fixated with these things, especially when there are teams with vastly different numbers of games played.

“I said last week that I will wait until the start of April when we are approaching the home straight and then assess where we are sitting. By that time, hopefully, some of the teams who have games in hand will have caught up and then we’ll be looking at the position with most teams having played an equal number of matches.

“Back to Saturday, and a 2-1 win was a fair reflection, although I would have to say we owe it to Chris Keenan for securing the three points with a wonder save late on from a guy only about a yard and a half out, as Dergview were pushing for an equaliser.”

“I thought we played well and could have been a bit more comfortable and had a few opportunities to build on our lead.

“We went 2-0 up via a Robbie White penalty, but they hit back fairly quickly and the momentum was then with the home team.

“A second yellow card saw Ross Black dismissed and it left us battling hard to defend the lead and I am very proud of the character my players showed in successfully doing that. The journey home was pretty enjoyable because of that.

Black’s red card means Larne have to make another change for Friday night’s tie. Theyare already without the suspended Stuart King.

“But the old saying is that when one door closes another opens and that will be the case here in that a couple of players who haven’t recently had their chance to show what they can do will now be able to come into the team and stake a claim for a jersey,” added McAlinden.