Dunmurry Rec manager Colin Telford believes that mid-week fixtures in the Amateur League are a nightmare for the visiting team.
Recently-relegated Dunmurry Rec lost 2-1 to Dundonald last Tuesday night in a 6.30pm kick-off, while they host Larne Tech Old Boys at the same time this Tuesday.
Telford explained: “These mid-week kick-offs are difficult for the away team. It's tough for amateur players because work is obviously their priority. We had guys arriving just before kick-off and that's not great preparation. Getting to the games is tough too, because you're fighting with the traffic.
“We were 2-0 down after an hour against Dundonald. We pulled one back and pushed hard for an equaliser, but Dundonald probably deserved the win.”
While Dunmurry Rec lost on Tuesday, they started their 1A campaign with a 2-0 win over Paul Kirk's Lisburn Rangers last Saturday.
Reflecting on that win, Telford said: “The first thing to say about Lisburn Rangers is they have a first class manager. I played under Paul during my playing days and I've nothing but respect for him. I've no doubt from what I've seen that Lisburn Rangers will be in the mix for promotion come the end of the season.
“With that in mind, I think it was a great win for us. We scored our two goals in the last 20 minutes so I think it's fair to say our extra fitness told. We've worked very hard on our fitness over the summer as I believe it can make a big difference in the Amateur League. If you look at the best teams in the Premier Division, they're full of players who are trim and solid.
“In the Irish League, fitness is a given. If you're not fit, you won't play. At our level, I think the ability to get up and down the field in the final 20 minutes can make a big difference.”
On Saturday, the Rec play Orangefield in their third 1A game of the season.
“If I'm being honest, I don't know much about Orangefield. In truth, nobody knows anything about anyone else at this stage of the season. Some teams will have brought in six good players, others will have lost six good players. It's hard to know.
“Orangefield lost 4-3 to Abbey Villa during the week which suggests to me they can score goals, but they can also let in goals. I think that's true for a lot of teams in this division.
“1A is a very competitive division. I won it four years ago with Rosario, so I know how tough it is.”
Following last season's relegation from the Premier Division, Telford has brought in a number of new faces.
“Although we were relegated, we were a mid-table team in terms of form. We got 21 points from our last 16 games. There is always a relegation hangover and I think a few of our players are still suffering from that.
“That's why it's important to bring in new faces who haven't got that issue. We've brought David Bell from Carrick Rangers, Mark McCullough from Chimney Corner, Stephen McDonald from Sport & Leisure, and we've still got Michael Ward who played for Glentoran and Dungannon. I think there will be one or two more signings to come.”
With these new signings on board, Telford is aiming to be in the promotion mix come the new year.
“There is a lot of pressure on me as our supporters expect promotion. I think it's essential to get off to a good start, particularly as our first four games are all league games.
“I don't see a team running away with the title. I think there will be five or six teams in the mix for promotion come Christmas and my aim is to be one of them.”
Name: Dumurry Rec
Division: NAFL 1A
Ground: Ashley Park, Dunmurry
Colours: Sky Blue
Manager: Colin Telford