Belfast Telegraph

Deery has winning belief as Institute aim for play-off success

By Martin Mawhinney

Institute manager Kevin Deery insists he has seen enough from his team to feel confident they can still overcome Ballinamallard United in their Premiership promotion tie tomorrow evening (Ferney Park, 7.45pm), despite losing Friday’s first leg 2-1.

By all accounts, the NIFL Championship One representatives held their own impressively against their top flight counterparts in a competitive first leg, and could consider themselves unfortunate not to have been entering the away chapter of this encounter on a level footing.

It takes a combination of skill, patience and a little luck to progress from these end-of-season cliffhangers, and although Deery feels his side lacked somewhat in the latter of those aspects last Friday, he hopes it may be a different story this time around.

The Stute boss remarked: “In the end, we were beaten by a 25-yard attempt that took a wicked deflection off a player to send our keeper the wrong way, and a penalty I don’t think should ever have been given. But we live to fight another day.

“Do I think we can still think we can win the tie from here? I certainly do. There is no pressure on my players in this situation.

“I just feel that we played into their hands, and got dragged into a long-ball game. But we are definitely still in the tie, and if we can keep a clean sheet, it will be all to play for.”

It goes without saying that the Mallards are now even greater favourites to progress than they were ahead of Friday’s encounter.

Not only are they the higher-ranked team, but they now hold the lead, and all with the additional comfort of their home surroundings to see out the task in hand.

However, Deery isn’t convinced that home advantage is such a factor on this occasion, and may even work in his own team’s favour.

“Their pitch is renowned for being one of the best in the country,” he said. “And I can vouch for that. We were up against Warrenpoint Town earlier in the season and so I went to watch them play at Ferney Park… it was like a carpet.

“That suits us. I have never questioned our battling qualities, but we have got to go there and be brave, and pass the ball as we usually do – it is what has got us to where we are.

“People are saying that we are a young side, and asking if it is too early for us to go up. Well, they are right that we are young, but if we can win this tie, it won’t be too early.”

Institute have been hit with a blow, with the news that Darren McDermott will miss Tuesday night’s crucial clash through suspension after the totting up of five previous yellow cards.

However, the impact of that blow has been softened with the return of fellow centre back and club captain Stephen O’Donnell, who will replace the absent McDermott in the heart of the Institute defence.

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