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Crucial: Whitey Anderson knows this is a big weekend for Balllinamallard

Crucial: Whitey Anderson knows this is a big weekend for Balllinamallard

Crucial: Whitey Anderson knows this is a big weekend for Balllinamallard

Whitey Anderson believes his Ballinamallard United squad not only have the quality to steer clear of the relegation scrap, but the confidence to do so by adhering to their principles. Very often the lower reaches of any table are clogged up by sides whose desperation encourages pragmatism over style but the three teams at the base of the Danske Bank Premiership - the Mallards, Dungannon Swifts and Warrenpoint Town - are showing no signs of abandoning their commitment to football on the deck.

Anderson is determined to ensure that remains the case at Ferney Park and, ahead of tomorrow's joust with Portadown, says he's been thrilled by his troops' efforts throughout a month which has delivered six points, three clean sheets and Wasp Solutions League Cup progress.

"We've been heading in a good direction and that's down to the players working hard and getting themselves back to a good level," he explains.

"We try to play football the right way and I think that's something players enjoy rather than just setting up with men behind the ball and playing it long to the men up front.

"Obviously you have to have the players who are capable of sticking to a game plan and doing the jobs that are asked of them and we certainly have that here.

"We encourage them to play a passing game and entertain the people who come to see them and, although we're down towards the bottom end of the table just now, we'll always look to play our way through things - and play's the important word there. You have to do things right."

After kicking October off with defeat to fellow strugglers Warrenpoint, United dumped Institute from the League Cup and got the better of both Coleraine and Dungannon on Premiership duty before their mini-revival was brought to a halt by last week's defeat to Cliftonville.

Even so, Anderson was encouraged by his side's display and took particular heart from their endeavours in the wake of Raymond Foy's red card, when they came close to rescuing a point from 3-1 down against the champions.

"We won up at Solitude a few years back but, ever since then, we've taken a few hammerings against Cliftonville," he says.

"Last week's match was probably the first time since then that I came away feeling that my players deserved to get something from the game.

"We were well organised, held our shape well and stopped Cliftonville from threatening us.

"They didn't create one chance in the first-half but, listen, once the red card comes out it's a completely different story because they will cut any team open when it's eleven against ten.

"We still had plenty to be happy about and there's a good spirit in the changing room because the players are enjoying the challenges that are coming their way.

"They've seen the improvement in themselves over these last few weeks but what's important is that we don't let one loss undo all of that."

Belfast Telegraph