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Ballymena United can write more Oval fairytales

By Graham Luney

Ballymena United must maintain their stunning record at their happy hunting ground in east-Belfast without skipper Allan Jenkins but boss Glenn Ferguson says it's mission possible.

Jenkins, who netted both his side's goals in a 2-1 win at the Oval in March last year, must sit out tomorrow's Premiership clash after receiving his marching orders for dissent against Linfield last weekend. But at least the Sky Blues seem to have the Indian sign over the Glens.

You have to go back to January 23, 2010 to find the Glens' last win over the Braidmen at the Oval. That was a 3-0 success against Roy Walker's side with former Oval aces Gary Hamilton, Matty Burrows and Keith Gillespie netting the goals.

But since then United have enjoyed their visits to Mersey Street.

There have been four wins on the spin there – September 21, 2010 (2-1), September 24, 2011 (4-2), March 24, 2012 (2-1) and January 15, 2013 (2-1).

The Glens will be happy they won't have to face midfielder Jenkins who, as well as scoring that brace last year, was also on target at the Oval in 2011 though Gary McCutcheon stole the show with a hat-trick. Although missing the Scot, Ferguson will believe his side can earn the bragging rights again given the east-Belfast side's current form.

Two defeats on the bounce and seven goals conceded is not what Glens boss Eddie Patterson hoped for.

"The Oval has been a good ground for us but we knew coming into these four games – Portadown, Cliftonville, Linfield and Glentoran – we faced a big challenge and it was going to be difficult to get points," said Ferguson.

"We started well against Portadown and got something but that wasn't the case against Cliftonville even though we perhaps deserved a point.

"We knew it was always going to be tough at Linfield but had refereeing decisions gone our way we may have got something.

"We will miss our captain at the Oval but we have a good record there and we will lift the boys this week and be prepared for it."

The return of Neil Lowry and David Cushley against the Blues strengthens the manager's hands.

"I thought we did well in the second half against Linfield to the point where with 11 men we may not have lost," added Ferguson.

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