Belfast Telegraph

Chris Beattie optimistic Banbridge AFC can turn their luck around

By Martin Mawhinney

When you are stranded at the bottom of your league table with no points from 11 games, it helps to have someone at the helm who can inject some positivity into proceedings. Luckily for Banbridge AFC, they have Chris Beattie.

The former Portadown and Glenavon coach has been suffering as much as any of his players as their painful opening to this season has seen them concede 42 goals to date, scoring just four in the meantime.

It can be hard to stay upbeat when consequences seem to be conspiring against you, but there is an optimism shared between this manager and his players that just may see them lift themselves off the foot of the table by the end of the season.

"Every Friday night, I go to bed thinking, ‘this is going to be the week we get our first win’, and I really believe it.

"The thing is, we haven’t even been playing at our best, but I know how close we have been in some matches. Everybody is working hard both on and off the pitch to make things right, and we will get there.

"It has been frustrating, because even though a few of our first team players left over the summer, I know what those that have stayed are capable of. It just seems that when we come to match-day, everyone is scared to make a mistake.

"It’s not even just a matter of getting the first win – even a couple of clean sheets and a few draws to get some points on the board would be good."

However, Banbridge AFC couldn’t have been further from registering their first point than their humbling 8-0 home defeat against Moneyslane at the start of the month.

The scoreline was the most drastic loss the Cheney Park side have suffered this season, but, typically, Beattie has chosen to look at the bright side of the experience.

He said: "The boys took that defeat really badly, and in a way, I was glad to see that. The last thing you want to see when you come into a changing room after you’ve lost is a bunch of guys planning their Saturday night out.

"It was just total silence, like a wake. I told them it was refreshing to see that the team was as upset as I was.

"There are a lot of good people at the club, bringing in sponsorship and helping to bring a level of professionalism to the club, down to everything including kitting the players out in club tracksuits.

"It isn’t going to happen overnight, and there will be no quick fixes, but things are definitely heading in the right direction for us."

Looking ahead, Beattie has one major suggestion about how he could improve not only his own team’s competitiveness within the league, but also the overall standard of competition within Mid Ulster’s intermediate divisions.

He added: "As far as I can see, the problem is that the top half of Intermediate A is far better than the bottom half, and it’s the same in Intermediate B. It’s like day and night – but if you joined the top halves of the two divisions and the two bottom halves together, you’d have a much more level playing field.

"There is talk that they might be splitting the Intermediate Leagues into three next season, and if that happens, it would definitely be a good thing for us, and give us a better chance to build."

In the meantime, all thoughts will be concentrated on landing that first league victory of the campaign. With players, manager and committee all clearly on the same page, it will surely come sooner rather than later.

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