Belfast Telegraph

Linfield are back on song but we can rock them, says Ervin


By Alex Mills

Skipper Jim Ervin insists motivation will not be in short supply when Linfield travel to the Warden Street Showgrounds tonight.

The Sky Blues have blown hot and cold in the Danske Bank Premiership so far, which has left them playing catch-up, having spiralled to eighth place in the table.

They did turn in a tasty 45 minutes in Monday night's clash against Linfield's Big Two rivals Glentoran at the Oval, but were not as impressive in the second.

Ervin believes United are slowly showing signs of recovery and claims three points tonight will help their process.

"You know what's it like when Linfield come to town, it's always difficult," he said. "They are coming off the back of a six goal win at Ballinamallard United, they are going to be riding high. But football is a funny old game. Look at Ards going to Windsor Park last week and beating the Blues in a Shield tie.

"Anything can happen. That's the joy of this league, any team can beat the other on any given day. It's will be a tough game, but the boys will be ready to go."

Following Linfield's recent run of dodgy results - they have won only two of their last six matches in all competitions - Ervin reckons they pressure is all on the Blues. "That is what it's like at Linfield, regardless why they are league champions or not. Players and teams get themselves motivated that extra wee bit when they face the Blues. That's just because they are the biggest team in the country.

"Everyone is out to prove themselves against them - everyone is out to try and put a marker down. They want to prove that they can do it against the bigger teams.

"What David Healy and Linfield achieved last year was great, but every team in the league sees them as a scalp, so everyone is out to beat them. Even if you get a draw, it's classed as a morale victory. Hopefully, we can prove we are more than a match for any team in the top six."

Ervin reckons his team's first half performance at the Oval was one of their best this season: "We were more like the Ballymena United of last season in the first half, but we didn't appear for the second 45 minutes. Coming off the pitch, it felt more like a defeat.

"It's very frustrating. But it's been the story of our season. We've had so many chances in so many games, but haven't taken them.

"There are small margins in most games in this league - that's the difference between winning and losing, or even drawing.

"We knew we couldn't afford to let the Glens get any further away from us. The top six is our target. We knew if we lost on Monday, we would be 10 points behind, which is a lot of ground to make up.

"It would have been a big task to get back. So it remains at seven points, so it's all to play for."

Ervin believes United have become victims of last season's success when they won the League Cup and finished fourth.

"Knowing David (Jeffrey) and Bryan (McLoughlin), once it ended, it was forgotten about," he added. "We didn't become carried away. But we knew it would be hard for us this season.

"People see us as a scalp. We are under no illusions. We have to keep fighting and plugging away."

Ballymena Utd vs Linfield

Danske Bank Premiership:

The Showgrounds, Tonight, 7.45pm

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