Belfast Telegraph

Statistics against Ballinamallard but Anderson is remaining positive

By Stuart McKinley

Whitey Anderson has declared that he doesn't believe in statistics - and maybe it's just as well.

The Ballinamallard United manager is still fighting for points to guarantee Premiership survival as he takes his team to face Ballymena United tomorrow with the odds stacked against him.

In four seasons as a top-flight club the Mallards have never won in Ballymena and failure to do so this time could see them finish the day bottom of the table with just one game left to play.

The relegation battle is the tightest it has ever been, with Carrick Rangers, Portadown and Warrenpoint Town still fearing the drop.

"It's too tight for my liking," said Anderson.

"We've two game to go, it's still in our hands and we know what we have to do.

"As far as our record at Ballymena goes, there are two things that I don't believe in - statistics and being away from home.

"Long journeys don't bother me at all. It doesn't come into the process at all. If you are prepared right it doesn't matter where you are playing.

"The one statistic that I have looked at is that we have the best defence in the bottom half, but scored the fewest goals and that is what is hurting us.

"It really hit home on Tuesday night when we could have been 3-0 up at half time against Dungannon, but when you don't take your chances it can come back to haunt you and that's what happened.

"We conceded four goals in 30 minutes when we hadn't conceded as many as that in our last four games."

After their last-gasp victory over Carrick Rangers on Tuesday night Portadown can now secure their Premiership status if they avoid defeat at Warrenpoint Town.

Caretaker manager Pat McGibbon had spoken out over the standard of performances since he stepped into the breach following Ronnie McFall's departure in March, with the Ports picking up a single point in six games prior to that.

"There is no doubt that I got the response I was looking for," said McGibbon.

"I didn't say anything in public that I hadn't already said in the dressing room, so the players knew how I felt. There are a lot of players in the squad who are used to winning things and now they are met with a different set of circumstances, so it's difficult for them.

"The pleasing thing for me at Carrick was that despite conceding very quickly after going 1-0 up we stayed strong.

"In other games we've conceded and then crumbled, but on Tuesday night we were able to go and get a winner ourselves which will hopefully give everyone a lift."

Carrick dropped to the bottom of the table on Tuesday night, a point behind Warrenpoint and two adrift of Ballinamallard.

They desperately need a result if they are to avoid dropping back into the Championship just a year after storming to promotion.

Facing a trip to Dungannon, who have won three of their last four games, might not be the fixture that Carrick manager Gary Haveron would pick, but Rangers won the corresponding fixture 1-0 last month.

The relegation situation isn't clear cut though. If Ards win the Championship then the bottom side in the Premiership will be relegated, while the next highest placed Championship club with a licence will play 11th in a two-legged Play-Off.

If H&W Welders win the division, Ards would play the Premiership's basement side in the Play-Off.

Belfast Telegraph


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