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Quality in decisive moments is key to Ards survival bid: Colin Nixon

By Graham Luney

Colin Nixon is backing his Ards players to lick their wounds and come out fighting in the battle for Danske Bank Premiership survival.

The north Down side were thumped 4-0 at the weekend by Carrick Rangers, who moved 12 points clear of bottom spot.

Eamon McAllister, Sean Noble, Declan O'Brien and Martin Murray dished out the punishment, bringing some welcome relief to the League Cup finalists who occupy the relegation/promotion play-off spot.

Ninth placed Ards - and Ballinamallard United a spot below them - are nine points ahead of Carrick but they are still looking nervously over their shoulders.

Ards haven't kept a clean sheet in the league since a 2-0 win over Glentoran on September 10 and that leaky defence has given them far too many headaches this season.

This weekend, Ards visit Portadown, now managed by their former boss Niall Currie, who moved to mid-Ulster in December.

The Ports - 12 points adrift of Carrick - appear doomed but Currie won't let his troops go down without a fight.

Glentoran legend Nixon needs his men to roll their sleeves up but he is keeping the faith, trusting them to produce the steel and spirit needed to survive.

"The players have got the hunger, commitment and determination to turn things around but we just need an extra bit of quality in the decisive moments and to stop making silly mistakes," he said.

"It's those sloppy moments that are letting us down but we will go again with a renewed determination to put things right.

"We had an off day last Saturday, it was a really disappointing performance and result but we have to move on and improve.

"It was a familiar problem as we conceded poor goals and despite creating loads of chances, we couldn't convert them.

"Carrick deserved their victory and it was just a result that dishes out a harsh lesson and we have to pick ourselves and battle on and we will do that.

"Confidence can be affected when results don't go your way but the boys have been working hard and we all know you need to perform well to get results.

"But I've no doubt we can pick up the points we need to move in the right direction.

"We've just suffered a bad result and it's important we get that out of our system, hopefully in the next one against Portadown this weekend."

Nixon's first managerial post is proving to be a challenging one but he always knew his boys needed to dig deep and take nothing for granted.

"I knew I was going to be in this position when I took the job," added Nixon, who has celebrated just one win in eight league matches.

"It was going to be a fight to consolidate our place in the Premiership and this is what is happening.

"I was under no illusion things were going to be straight forward or easy. I will instil confidnece in the boys and try to get the best out of them. Rewards come when you work hard. We are well up for the fight, no question about that.

"Anyone who knows me knows that result has hit me hard and I'm hurting more than anyone. You pick yourself up and work harder on the training pitch."

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