County Antrim Shield: Jim Ervin certain Ballymena United will keep their guard up for Larne clash
Skipper Jim Ervin insists complacency will not be an issue when Ballymena United face Championship 1 side Larne in tonight's Toals County Antrim Shield semi-final at Inver Park.
If the surface passes an early morning pitch inspection, the Braidmen will enter the game as hot favourites to reach yet another cup final under the watch of manager Glenn Ferguson, but Ervin realises that anything can happen in a one-off cup tie.
United are coming off the back of an impressive performance against Premiership title holders Crusaders at the weekend, where they narrowly lost out, and the former Linfield man is hoping for another display of passion and commitment.
"It's a local derby, we'll be up for it," said Ervin. "They (Larne) are a Championship side, but we'll be giving them our respect.
"It's a tight little ground and I know David McAlinden will have his team well drilled.
"Form usually goes out of the window in local derbies. But it's a semi-final.
"We see it as a great opportunity of reaching another final.
"We played them in a pre-season game down there. Yes, it's a totally different scenario, but we know what to expect.
"We know we'll have to be on our game to get anything from it."
Since his move from Windsor Park, Ervin has already appeared in two cup finals, but is still looking for his first success.
"I was in the team that was beaten in the Irish Cup final by Glenavon and we also lost to Cliftonville in last season's League Cup - both were very close matches," he added.
"Hopefully, this will be my third final. We now have a chance to put things right by picking up a winners' medal.
"The only way we can do that is to work hard and perform to the best of our ability.
"Regardless of what competition it is, as players you want to play in finals.
"So this is a big opportunity for us. We'll certainly be fully focused and ready to go."
Ironically, Ervin was in the Linfield team beaten by Ballymena in a penalty shoot-out in the Shield final back in the 2012 season, which ended a 23-year trophy drought.
He added: "It's a cup competition - we all want to go as far as we can.
"Players want to have winners' medals in their cabinet. We see this as a great chance."
United will have Tony Kane and Michael Ruddy available following suspensions, while teenage sensation Matthew Shevlin will be added to the squad.