Ban is unfair but show me fighting spirit: Carrick Rangers boss Gary Haveron
Gary Haveron has protested his innocence following the incident that has landed him with a three-match touchline ban.
The Carrick Rangers manager will have to watch from the stand when Cliftonville visit Taylor's Avenue tonight in a game that he brands a 'golden opportunity' to turn up the pressure on those immediately above his team in the relegation battle.
Haveron's suspension is the result of a flare up which occurred minutes before the end of Carrick's 4-3 win over Crusaders a fortnight ago, but he feels that he was hard done by and that the ban is harsh.
"I didn't feel that I did anything wrong other than protect my own personal space," said Haveron.
"There was pushing and shoving, but that happens during matches all the time. There was also a lot of other people pushing and shoving and I was the only one who got picked out.
"I wasn't the aggressor, I didn't throw any punches. All I was doing was separating two players and trying to protect myself from getting punched."
Haveron does want to see fighting spirit in his team as they enter the last half a dozen games of the season with just two points separating them from Warrenpoint Town at the foot of the table.
Carrick could move into 10th place this evening with a win over the Reds and while expectation may have risen after that win over Crusaders, Haveron wants his players to play without pressure.
"This is a golden opportunity to get three more points on the board and also drag Portadown into the mix," said Haveron.
"We have to try to take every opportunity that comes up and try to break away from the teams below us.
"There is no such thing as a free game, but we have nothing to lose in this one. Even if we lose we don't lose any ground in the table. If we win it's a bonus.
"Realistically Cliftonville will be expected to win the game. They have consistently been in the top three or four over the last five seasons."
Adam Salley scored his first league goal for the club in the victory over the Crues and the Linfield loanee has been earning plaudits for his performances since signing in January.
Haveron points to the signings he made in January compared to those of his relegation rivals as an indication of the task that is facing him and his players over the next month.
"Adam Salley has been fantastic for us, but he's a young boy who has only just turned 19," said Haveron.
"The difference between us and the other teams at the bottom is that Ballinamallard United brought in Stephen O'Flynn and Ivan Sproule, Warrenpoint Town brought in Martin Murray and Johnny McMurray from Cliftonville and they will be on a lot of money.
"We don't have it within our means to buy our survival in the Premiership. I brought in Adam Salley and Danny Wallace, two young lads from Linfield and James Wright, who wasn't getting a game for Knockbreda."