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Ards deal will allow Colin Nixon to lay foundations

By Alex Mills

Manager Colin Nixon says he can now start planning for the future after agreeing a new two-year contract at Ards. The 38-year-old, who replaced Niall Currie on a temporary basis in December, has successfully steered the County Down club to Danske Bank Premiership safety, which prompted the Ards board to make his stay a permanent arrangement.

Following back-to-back wins against Glenavon and Dungannon Swifts, Nixon's boys are now vying with Glentoran and Rodney McAree's team for seventh place in the standings.

However, should they manage to nudge out the other two, there will be no crack at the Europa League play-offs because the club failed to apply for a Uefa licence.

Nixon, however, has done a great job in his short time at the helm, but he reckons there is more to come.

"Anyone who knows me will know I don't like settling for second best," he said. "I've enjoyed the challenge and the boys have bought in to what I'm trying to do.

"I've plans for the future. I don't want to see the club struggling in the bottom six in the table - and that's no disrespect to other teams.

"We have to set our sights higher than that. We've four games left in the current campaign, we want to finish as high up the table as possible. If that happens to be seventh, then brilliant. It means we are making progress."

The decision not to apply for a Euro certificate was taken long before Nixon's arrival, so it's something he'll have to live with in the event of his team squeezing into the play-off position.

"When I came in, the club wasn't on very sound footing," he said.

"But we've managed to stabilise things and confidence is flowing again - there has been a dramatic turnaround in fortunes.

"I've already agreed terms with a few of the existing staff but, having secured a two-year contract, it means that I can now look to next season in terms of attracting players to strengthen the squad.

"I've been around this game for a few years and, even as a player, I have quickly learnt that you can't afford to stand still. I'm committed, along with my backroom staff, to making this club stronger - and I've pledged to give 100 per cent, just as I did as a player. I have a strong work ethic."

Nixon is hoping to extend his team's unbeaten run when they travel to the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena on Saturday to face a Carrick Rangers side that appears destined for the relegation play-off at the end of the term.

They are 11 points ahead of basement side Portadown, but trail Ballinamallard United by the same amount.

"We want to keep the winning mentality going," added Nixon.

"I've been pleased with our recent displays. Ironically, our little run started after Carrick thumped us 4-0 last month.

"I think it was a wake-up call for a few people. But we have responded in the proper manner, so we will be going there looking for revenge, I can assure you.

"Carrick are still battling for their lives, they'll want to try and avoid the play-off. But we go into the game on the back of a few good results.

"We defeated Dungannon last week and I don't think anyone could say we didn't deserve it. I thought we controlled the game from start to finish. So it's important to keep that momentum going."

• THE NI Football League have confirmed that the scoreline in the recently-abandoned Premier Intermediate League fixture between Dundela and Newington YC will stand.

The Duns were 2-1 up when the April 1 clash was brought to an early conclusion when a Newington player is alleged to have grabbed referee Iain Banks by the neck.

The player was subsequently suspended by the club, who did not challenge a disciplinary charge from the Irish Football Association, with the NIFL Premier Intermediate League Committee subsequently determining that the result of the match at the time of the abandonment stand as a completed fixture.

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