Belfast Telegraph

Glens showing they can live with the big hitters: Ervin

By Graham Luney

Ballymena United captain Jim Ervin maintains his experience in the game has taught him never to be fooled by a team's pre-season form.

Glentoran were ridiculed after some embarrassing early results including defeats to neighbours Dundela and East Belfast but boss Gary Haveron urged the fans to judge the team in competitive fixtures.

The Glens have not been the wounded animal many doubters expected - rather the youthful, energetic team has suffered only one defeat in six Premiership outings and that 1-0 loss at Linfield last weekend was a hard earned three points for the champions.

Goalkeeper Roy Carroll produced a man of the match performance and the visitors returned home knowing they could give the best team in the country a few headaches.

Haveron's side are now determined to have a go at teams and they will bring that attacking mindset to the Ballymena Showgrounds today.

It should be a cracking contest with the Sky Blues moving through the gears as well, a League Cup win and back to back triumphs in the league having lifted spirits on Warden Street.

But Linfield legend Ervin knows the Glens will be hungry to return to winning ways.

"Glentoran have done well," said the Sky Blues skipper. "People were maybe expecting something different because of the pre-season results they had but you can't read much into those, the games are about fitness.

"There was a lot made of Glentoran losing to East Belfast and people thought they would struggle but they have proved on their day they can be a match for anyone and they proved at Windsor that they can compete and judging by reports they were unlucky not to get something.

"It's still early days and the important thing was we didn't get carried away with our success from last season. We did well against Crusaders until Kyle Owens was sent off and Paul Heatley scored a wonder goal, our heads went down after that.

"Against Glenavon was a bit bizarre and I still can't put my finger on what happened that day but we managed a good performance against Linfield at Windsor and we feel a bit hard done by that we didn't get a point that day.

"We beat Knockbreda in the Cup and had two wins on the bounce, Cliftonville and Warrenpoint in the league, so we want to build on that. There was a lot of confidence in the camp but when you don't get a win the pressure comes from all over."

Meanwhile, Peter McMahon is expected to return for Dungannon Swifts as they aim to get back on track against Warrenpoint today.

The winger missed last weekend's defeat at Cliftonville.

The Swifts sit eighth, but have an opportunity to bolster their points tally against the newly-promoted outfit.

Boss Rodney McAree admits that, after struggling against some of the big hitters in the opening weeks, they have to produce results in games like these.

"There have been a lot of positives from the opening matches," he said. "I do feel as if we're not that far away.

"We've had a tough run of fixtures - any team would struggle to take points against Coleraine, Linfield and Cliftonville - so we can't be too downhearted.

"However we have to be picking up points against the teams around us."

So far Matthew Tipton's side have one win - a 1-0 victory over Ards.

McAree will assess the fitness of midfielder Seanan Clucas, who has missed the last few games through injury.

Keeper Andy Coleman is likely to spend another fortnight out with a wrist problem.

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