Lower Shankill dealt a blow to automatic promotion hopes
Lower Shankill manager Stephen Paul fears that his side may have thrown away their best chance of winning the Division 2C title after a scrappy 1-1 draw with Donaghadee at the weekend.
The Agnes Street gaffer had been targeting a run of victories from now until the end of the season in his quest to pin down current runaway leaders Basement.
And they seemed well on their way to another three points after David Butler’s first half penalty – but an equaliser from their visiting opponents ten minutes into the second spell has now made their task that bit more difficult.
Paul admitted: “It wasn’t the right result for us. We had nine games left, and I was basically targeting wins in all nine. We knew if we could do that, the league was in our own hands.
“On the plus side, we still have both of our games against Basement to play and a game in hand too, but we need them to slip up now to make up the 11-point lead they have over us.
“We know we can give them a game over both games – they knocked us out of one of the cups earlier this season after their only real chance in the second chance, while we had enough chances to win three games.”
Paul feels missed opportunities are symptomatic of the problems his side have been having this season, and has moved to remedy this recently.
He continued: “It wasn’t just at the weekend – we have been squandering chances a lot lately, but I have brought in three guys from Shankill United who will hopefully help us out in the that department.
“Bill Waite will carry plenty of threat up front, and Glenn Loughins and Philip Addis will help to shore up the midfield, and their experience will be a good asset in the weeks ahead.”
The biggest issue facing Paul is the push for promotion. A top two charge is a much more realistic proposition for his fourth-placed team, although the Lower Shankill boss confesses he is ensure if that will be enough to see his side reach their target.
He stated: “The thing about our league is, we don’t know whether it will be only one team who goes up, or two. There are only 10 teams in the division, and a lot depends on whether any more clubs come into 2C next year. I’ve heard there are, which would be good for us, but we aren’t going to give up on the title anyway.”
St Teresa’s capitalised on Lower Shankill’s draw to open up a two-point gap into third place, after their 6-3 home win over 4th Newtownabbey, but they have played three more games than the Shankill men.
Meanwhile in the Premier Division, Shankill United became only the second team to concede a point to struggling bottom club Dromara Village.
In the only other top flight Amateur League game, Comber Rec defeated Killyleagh YC 2-0, but may have their work cut out to stay ahead of their rivals by the end of the season, as Killyleagh have four games in hand to cut down Comber’s lead over them.
For all the weekend scores and latest standings, click on our results and tables section.