Club focus: Grange Rangers
Ballyclare outfit Grange Rangers are still in the promotion race at the top of 2B, but their manager Paul McAllister fears they will be punished for their failure to beat the division's lesser sides.
McAllister explained: “If I'm being honest, I was hoping for better. There have been too many games where we haven't played to the best of our ability.
“We're capable of beating the best teams in the division but we've struggled against the lesser sides, which is frustrating.
“We've not kicked-on after our good results. I think we've been complacent on occasions and we need to make sure we treat each game the same.”
McAllister believes Grange's 3-3 draw with Newtownbreda may have fatally damaged their promotion chances.
“As long as it is still possible we will keep fighting for it, but I think it's fair to say it's difficult for us now.
“Our 3-3 draw against Newtownbreda was a blow for us as we were 3-0 up at half time. They scored an equaliser from the penalty spot with the last kick of the game. It was hard to take, because I don't think it was a penalty.”
In January, Rangers crashed out of the Clarence Cup to intermediate side Orangefield, losing 6-3 in an exciting match.
McAllister said: “It was a great game, as we fought back from 3-1 down to make it 3-3. We were on top, but the ref gave a dodgy penalty against us and that killed us. They scored a couple of late goals to win 6-3, but we didn't let ourselves down. If it wasn't for that penalty who knows what might have happened.”
Grange Rangers must now face basement club Rooftop twice in the next week.
McAllister said: “It can be tough to play the same team twice in a week, but I'm sure we will cope with it. Rooftop lost a lot of players at the start of the season and they've been rebuilding since then, but from the looks of things they've improved in recent weeks.
“They will aiming to pick up points as they're fighting relegation, but if we're to have any chance of finishing in the top two we need to take six points from these two games.”
McAllister believes that their Foundry Lane ground has been a happy hunting ground for Rangers, but if they are to challenge for honours they must improve their away form.
“Our pitch is very rarely off and we've turned it into a bit of fortress. The Civil Service are the only team to beat us at home in the league, while the only cup games we've lost there have been to teams from a higher division.
“It's our away form that has let us down. It's an area in which we must improve.”
Long term, Paul McAllister believes the Foundry Land could host intermediate football. Certainly, the Ballyclare club have no shortage of ambition.
“In the short term our priority is to get back into 2A, while long term we would like to become an intermediate club. Our ground wouldn't need that much work to reach the standard, so I think it's an achievable target.”
Name : Grange Rangers
League : NAFL 2B
Founded : 1970
Ground : Foundry Lane, Ballyclare
Colours : White, Blue and Red
Gaffer : Paul McAllister
Skipper : Matt Cooper
Sharpshooter : Marc Campbell
Most Skilful : Davey Thompson
Hard Man : Ally McNair thinks he's a hardman
Club Comedian : Matt Cooper is always playing jokes
Best Moment : Beating Whitehead 7-0 in our derby game
Club Man : Wayne the Secretary or Joel and Treasurer/Goalkeeper