Ards reaping benefit of putting in the hard yards, insists Nixon
Ards boss Colin Nixon says hard work is the secret behind their successful Premiership survival mission and he's already making plans to make the north Down club a more formidable force next season.
Glentoran legend Nixon, who took over as manager from Niall Currie in December, was handed a new two-year deal after helping the club retain their top flight status.
In fact, the club are eyeing seventh spot in the Premiership table with Dungannon Swifts only three points above them.
With only two games remaining, Ards are flexing their muscles and have lost only one of their last eight league games - to Linfield - and are unbeaten in their last four heading into tonight's trip to Ballinamallard United (8pm).
Nixon is chasing another two wins this season but he admits that the 2017-2018 season is already firmly in his thoughts.
"The boys deserve a lot of credit because I've worked them hard," said Nixon. "Everyone knows the way I am, the way I was as a player, and I firmly believe you have got to train hard and play hard to be successful. The boys have really bought into it and the results show that.
"To only lose to Linfield in our last eight league games is a record to be proud of but certainly I'm already thinking about the long-term challenges. You can't stand still in this game and I'll be freshening up the squad.
"There are a few youngsters from the reserve side who can be integrated into the first team, and I will be looking to strengthen the team, but the budget will be tight once again.
"When I was first appointed a few clubs were interested in our players so I managed to get them new contracts. We will need to have further conversations with a few."
Ards condemned Portadown to relegation with a 3-2 win on Tuesday night and Nixon hopes his team continue to impress at Ferney Park.
"There's still the chance we can finish seventh which would be a remarkable achievement," he added. "We won't be taking anything for granted but I want to win both the games and put the points on the board. It would be nice to finish the season on a positive note so we can start building for the future after that."