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Ards can make a late surge to clinch play-off place: McAllister



Eamon McAllister

Eamon McAllister

Eamon McAllister

Eamon McAllister is still holding out hope that Ards can make it into the Championship play-off place.

To have any chance of that they will need playmaker McAllister to continue the excellent form that helped him win the Northern Ireland Football Writers' Association Championship Player of the Month award for February.

The ex-Crusaders ace scored four times last month as Ards won four games and drew with leaders Portadown.

Ards, under John Bailie, have moved into fourth place.

They won't catch the Ports, who are 14 points clear and favourites for automatic promotion, but they are refusing to rule out runners-up spot which would earn them a play-off versus the second bottom side in the Premiership.

Fresh from beating H&W Welders 2-1 on Wednesday night, Ballinamallard are in second with 57 points with third placed Loughgall on 56. Ards are next on 49.

"We still have an outside chance of the play-offs," said McAllister.

"We are aiming to have a big finish to the campaign and if we don't make it this season we will be going all out to win automatic promotion next time."

Ards travel to take on the Welders tomorrow.

"It will be a tough game because Gary Smyth has gone into the Welders again as manager and they have become hard to beat," added McAllister.

For the 32-year-old, the Player of the Month prize is the first in a career that has seen him play with Donegal Celtic, Ballymena United, Bangor and Carrick Rangers.

Now in his third spell with Ards, McAllister added: "I've been playing in the Irish League for a long time and this is the first time I have won a Writers' award."

After a shock home defeat to Ballyclare Comrades in their last game, Matthew Tipton's Portadown will aim to hit back tomorrow at PSNI, who need points in their relegation battle.

Ballinamallard and Loughgall will hope for another slip-up from the Ports. Harry McConkey's side host Dundela while Loughgall face a tricky trip to Newry City.

At the bottom, Dergview secured a vital home victory over Queen's in midweek. If they repeat the feat against the same team tomorrow it will be another boost in their quest to avoid the drop.

Bottom team Knockbreda, who are one point behind PSNI and four adrift of Dergview, are at home to unpredictable Ballyclare.

Tomorrow's fixtures (3pm): Ballinamallard v Dundela, Dergview v Queen's, H&W Welders v Ards, Knockbreda v Ballyclare, Newry City v Loughgall, PSNI v Portadown.

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