Carrick have grounds for optimism in pitch battle
These are the pictures that illustrate the depth of frustration felt by Danske Bank Premiership club Carrick Rangers over months of repeated match cancellations at their saturated Taylors Avenue ground.
To the left are perfectly playable artificial surfaces at the council-owned Amphitheatre Leisure Centre, in constant use by junior and leisure-time footballers.
And just metres away, to the right, Carrick's home pitch lies idle, not having hosted a home game since October 31 last year, due to drainage problems and a build-up of surface water during the recent rainy spell.
So near, yet so far.
Carrick, of course, cannot utilise the 3G pitches on the other side of the fence from their unfit ground as there are no spectator facilities and therefore they don't meet the league's licence requirements.
But the good news is that help is on the way.
Drainage work on the problem area of Carrick's pitch is due to begin within a matter of days, with the hope that the home fixture against Coleraine on Saturday week will get the green light.
And more major work, which is hoped will solve the issue completely, will be carried out once the season finishes.
Added to the frustration is the fact that Carrick thought the problem had been sorted out last summer.
Carrick secretary David Hilditch said: "We had drainage work carried out on a troublesome area that was completed in July. It seems all that has done is push the trouble spot elsewhere.
"We've also had the wettest December on record, which has made the situation even worse for us, despite some very willing volunteers pro-actively working to alleviate the situation.
"It's not good when you are going to bed every night looking at the weather forecast for the next day and doing the same in the morning just hoping that it's going to be dry.
"We are going to have work taking place on the drainage problems in the next few days and then we just have to hope that we get a couple of dry days to allow that to take effect.
"Under a scheme proposed by the council a new drainage system is planned and that work will take place in the summer.
"They have had consultants in and they must have identified the need for the current drainage system to be overhauled."
The 3G pitch had been originally planned for Carrick's main pitch, but after going through the funding application process and planning, it was only when the work had already commenced that subsidence problems were discovered and the entire project had to be shelved.
It is unlikely that it will ever come to pass.
Provided the short-term fix has the desired effect and the Coleraine game goes ahead as planned, Carrick will only have two more away games between now and the top six/bottom six split. The postponed fixtures against Dungannon Swifts, Glenavon and Crusaders have been rearranged for Tuesday January 26, Tuesday February 2 and Monday February 15 respectively.
After being unbeaten at Taylors Avenue during last season's successful promotion campaign that should provide them with a boost in their battle against relegation.
And being able to finally host home fixtures will also provide a welcome boost to the coffers.
"Some of the postponements were 50-50 and given a bit more time I think that we could have got games on," said Hilditch.
"It is a very difficult situation for the club, we still have bills to pay without money coming in through the gate and we wouldn't like this to drag on too much longer. There are things that we would have liked to do that we haven't been able to because of the cash flow.
"I don't know exact figures, but when you lose a home gate against Cliftonville and a home gate against Crusaders, plus three other matches, I would estimate it running into five figures.
"The good thing is that we only have three fixtures outstanding despite all this and we have had good support from other clubs and the league."
CARRICK RANGERS REARRANGED HOME FIXTURES (all 7.45pm): v Dungannon Swifts (Tuesday January 26), v Glenavon (Tuesday February 2), v Crusaders (Monday February 15).