Glenn Ferguson is quietly confident his Ballymena United side will not become another victim of Ballyclare Comrades’ giant-killing power.
The Belfast Telegraph Championship One side travel to the Showgrounds tonight hoping to produce the same heroic performance that slayed Linfield 1-0 at Dixon Park in the second round.
Comrades failed to repeat the trick in the County Antrim Shield, losing 5-2 to Cliftonville, but they can still sniff a second League Cup upset.
Sky Blues chief Ferguson said his players will be wary of the reality that this underdog can bite.
“They have proved that they can compete against Premier League clubs by beating Linfield,” said Ferguson. “There won’t be too much tinkering with the squad, it will be the strongest one we have available but we won’t take risks with injuries.
“I watched Ballyclare against Cliftonville in the County Antrim Shield to see how they competed against Premier League sides. Cliftonville killed the game by scoring two goals in the first four minutes, making it very difficult for them.
“But to their credit they scored twice against the Reds and once against Linfield so they are capable of scoring goals against senior teams and we will have to be aware of that.”
Although United left Windsor Park with nothing after the thrilling 3-2 defeat at Linfield on Saturday, Ferguson could take comfort from the fact his side fought to the end.
“I don’t really like singling players out but when you have Johnny Taylor playing the way he is at the minute and driving people on I think it gives the rest of the players a lift,” added Ferguson.
“I thought he was really good while Matthew Tipton held the ball up well in attack.
“If you can get the spine of your team right, the rest can gel around that.
“The bottom line is we got our bottoms kicked in but there’s only a few points separating a number of teams.
“The top teams will play each other again and we play Dungannon, if we can pick up points we can move up the table.
“But we have Ballyclare to look forward to first.”
The disappointment of failing to complete the comeback against Linfield will not linger long in the minds of the Braidmen.
“I told the players at half-time against Linfield what I felt about the first-half performance and I got a reaction,” added Ferguson.
“Going into this next game we know we cannot switch off, even for a minute.
“You need to be on your toes from the start, you cannot switch your concentration on and off, if you do performance levels will drop.”