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Ballymena face tough Friday fixture against 'super' Newry, insists Jeffrey

 

By Stephen Alexander

David Jeffrey believes his Ballymena United side will have to contend with the Friday night factor as well as a revitalised Newry City in tonight's Danske Bank Premiership clash, which could see the Braidmen move to the summit of the table.

The border club have regularly switched home fixtures from Saturdays to Friday nights in order to maximise attendances and support on their return to the top flight.

That, in turn, has been reflected in the fact that all of the 11 points newly-promoted City have claimed to date have been earned on their home turf.

The latest of those came last weekend with a 2-0 success over Ards - a result which snapped a run of six straight league defeats for Darren Mullen's side, and former Linfield boss Jeffrey is acutely aware of the dangers the high-flying Sky Blues face tonight.

"People will have seen how impressive Newry were on the telly against Cliftonville recently," said Jeffrey.

"They are a super footballing side and they are coming off the back of a great win against Ards last weekend.

"Confidence will be high after that and they love their games on a Friday night down in Newry, so it is going to be one very tough encounter for us.

"They will be targeting us and it's a question for us of can we respond once again?

"We had a very tough game against Glentoran in midweek, and these are part-time professionals - they can't go for rest and relaxation between games, these guys were back at their work on Wednesday morning and having to prepare for Friday night.

"We played Newry earlier in the season at home and won 3-0, but in no way was it a 3-0 game.

"On that day, we capitalised when we were on top and took our chances when we created them," added Jeffrey, who welcomes defender Jonny Addis back from suspension.

And as happy as the manager is with his side's remarkable recent run of form, the secret of that successful run is quite simple - hard work and preparation.

"Bryan (McLoughlin) and I have always loved the coaching aspect of the game, that's where we earn our stripes," he said. "We've coached for many years and worked very hard at Linfield, and we've now taken that onto the pitch at Ballymena.

"Whatever ideas you have and try to put across, players have got to embrace them, and it's nice to see the work that we're doing on the training pitch and the coaching time we are spending with the players is reaping rewards."

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