Belfast Telegraph

Gavin Dykes won't rest until safety is guaranteed

By Alex Mills

Ballinamallard United boss Gavin Dykes admits the threat of relegation is still giving him a few sleepless nights.

Although the Mallards have the benefit of an eight-point lead on 11th-placed Carrick Rangers, the former Derry City man will not rest easy until his team's Danske Bank Premiership status is confirmed.

It was no surprise that they crashed to their 19th defeat of the league campaign against title holders Crusaders on Monday night - in front of a live Sky Sports television audience - but Dykes was thrilled with his boys' performance.

However, it's out of the frying pan and into the fire for United as David Healy's title-chasing Linfield are due to make the long trek to Ferney Park today.

"It's another nice easy one," chirped Dykes with his tongue firmly placed in his cheek. "Linfield are on a great run, having gone something like 12 or 13 games unbeaten, so it will be another big ask for our boys.

"I was very proud of their performance at Seaview. We had a game plan and they stuck to it - I thought they were excellent.

"There is no point in lying, quality beat us in the end. David Cushley's cross was fantastic which laid on the first goal for (Jordan) Owens. And (Paul) Heatley hit two goal of the season contenders. I can't fault the players - I was exceptionally proud of them. We had a lot of young kids in there, but I was thrilled with how they performed - they are all local lads. Hopefully, we can now carry on that type of performance.

"Seaview is a daunting place to go at the best of times. I've gone there with better teams and found it really difficult. We also had the pressure of the Sky Sports television cameras there.

"We've another easy one coming up (against the Blues). It will be our last game before the split."

After the Linfield game, Dykes believes his team have a chance of adding to their 29 points as they'll be facing sides in and around them in the table.

"There is an eight-point gap (on Carrick), but we can't take anything for granted," he added.

"We set out a plan at the outset that we wanted to do better than we did last season. If we can do that, we'll be delighted. It would give us a platform to build for next season. We are a young group.

"When we play well, we can give anyone a game. But when we are poor, we are really poor.

"That's the inconsistency you get with such a young squad of boys. We are not safe by any means in terms of the relegation play-off place, so we have to put as many points on the board as we possibly can.

"But we'll certainly take a lot of positives from our performance at Seaview and hopefully we can build on that."

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