'We cannot play twice in two days'
PAUL Millar says it's patently wrong to force teams to play twice within 48 hours and he feels clubs should act to prevent this becoming a regular occurrence.
Millar says his Larne team was put at a serious disadvantage at the weekend and he actually risked losing an important Steel and Sons Cup tie in order to have a team that could provide a worthy challenge to last year’s league champions, Loughgall on Monday night.
“We left six players out on Saturday and left ourselves open to a possible shock defeat against Donard Hospital because, with a squad of just 18 players, there’s no way we could have done anything else. And it all seems so unnecessary, given that it is some sort of European directive to avoid clashes with their matches on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays,” explained the Inver manager.
“We didn’t really know what to expect against Donard. And it’s a knockout competition, so you only get one chance. We were confident that the team we fielded would be strong enough to defeat them and so it proved, but we shouldn’t be in a situation whereby the way we select a team depends on when we’re allowed to play the match.
“We weren’t alone in that position, but that’s little comfort. The Welders were in the same situation, for example, and then they only managed a draw on Monday night against Derg View.
“Loughgall had no match on Saturday and that weighted everything against us. But we still managed to give them a hard game and we probably deserved something for the effort put in over the 90 minutes, and in terms of chances created and ball possession.
“I was disappointed with the goals we conceded - one from a corner, another from a free-kick and the third one the result of a deflection - and we had a goal disallowed as well, which was really a very poor decision by a linesman.
“If the players keep performing as well as they did on Monday night, producing the same pace and tempo all over the park, I think we’ll win more often than we’ll lose.
“Against Donard, we always looked likely winners and we had a couple of performances worthy of mention: one from young David McDonald, a friend of Liam Carland who came down for a trial pre-season and did very well. He’s a full back, but we used him as a sweeper on Saturday.
“And the other was from Matt Pollard at centre half, showing lots of promise.”
Millar said: “This Saturday we play Wakehurst in the CIS Cup at Inver Park.
“We played the Ballymena team last year in the Steel and Sons Cup and won 3-0, but I suspect they have strengthened for this season because they are top of their league at the moment. So we can’t afford to take any chances against them, especially as this competition is now a single-leg knockout format.”