Belfast Telegraph

Humbled Sky Blues ready to bounce back: Ervin

By David Mason

Defender Jim Ervin believes Ballymena United are ready to bare their teeth in today's Danske Premiership showdown against Cliftonville at Solitude.

The Sky Blues are still smarting from last weekend's 4-1 tanking by Dungannon Swifts at the Showgrounds and are determined to bounce back.

Former Linfield man Ervin put it down to a 'bad day at the office' but insists the players must now respond.

"To be honest, it could have been worse," he said. "Sometimes you have got to hold up your hands and admit they were better than us on the day.

"Dungannon don't get the credit they deserve at times. They are well organised and are well managed by Rodney McAree. "They always try to play good football. They also have some quality players.

"It can go down as a blip on our part, but we got what we deserved, it's as simple as that."

Ervin insists the Sky Blues must stand up and be counted in north Belfast.

"We must have a reaction, there is no question about that," he added.

"It's always a difficult venue. Cliftonville are going well again. By all accounts, they fully deserved their win at Windsor Park last weekend.

"They are now back in the title race. They have players who can hurt you, if given the time and space. The likes of Davy McDaid, Stephen Garrett and Chris Curran are always dangerous.

"So, we know what to expect. But we must focus on our own game. We also have boys in the side that can nick goals... Cathair Friel and Johnny McMurry have done really well up us up front this season.

"It's important we get last week's defeat out of the system. It's not an excuse, but we had 10 players out injured."

The defeat by Dungannon nudged the Sky Blues back to fifth place - from third - in the table, but Ervin insists they are still on course to claim a top six spot.

"Our target from the outset was to get into the top six - something the club has failed to achieve in the Premiership," he added. "That is still our focus.

"But you only have to look at the table to see how close it is. Yes, Crusaders are seven clear at the top, but only three points separate the next four clubs -Linfield, Cliftonville, Coleraine and ourselves.

"There is no a lot between the teams, they are all capable of beating the others. The top six remains our immediate goal -anything above that will be a bonus. We are no different than any other team, we want to finish as high up the tab as possible.

"Obviously, David (Jeffrey) and Bryan (McLoughlin) will have their own targets in the months and years ahead, but for now it's about taking small steps as we make progress."

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