Belfast Telegraph

Carrick wary of facing Jeffrey's wounded Ballymena: Surgenor


On alert: Mark Surgenor expects a Ballymena response
On alert: Mark Surgenor expects a Ballymena response

By Alex Mills

Mark Surgenor insists Carrick Rangers will be primed for a backlash when Ballymena United make the trip to the Loughshore Hotel Arena tonight.

The big defender was instrumental in the east Antrim side's promotion to the Danske Bank Premiership last season - and he believes there are good enough to remain there.

Even though they've faced a baptism of fire against the might of Crusaders, Cliftonville and now Ballymena, Surgenor reckons any points gained against the so-called top teams will be a bonus.

Despite enjoying League Cup success against Newington in midweek, David Jeffrey's Braidmen will be looking to get back on track in the Premiership after suffering a last-gasp defeat to Glentoran last Saturday.

"That's the scary thing about this one, if Ballymena are hurting, Jeffrey is the one man who can get a reaction," said Surgenor.

"I'm sure he has told his boys in no uncertain terms, in his quietest of voices, that he'll want a response - and he usually gets one. So, yes I do fear a backlash, but Niall (Currie) will have us well drilled to deal with that."

Although Rangers were dumped out of the League Cup by Bangor in midweek, Surgenor makes no apology in stating that league business remains a priority following their promotion.

"People will say we over-achieved but in my opinion we didn't - we were the second best team in the Championship," he adds.

"There is no doubt the boys that Niall brought in over the summer has strengthened us.

"We are going to lose more games than we win this season, so what we have to do is stick together.

"If we do that, we'll be ok. We are not too disappointed about the start we've made. It's now a matter of trying to reel in as many points as we can to keep away from the relegation zone.

"Personally, I think Linfield and Crusaders will be out in front, with Larne not far behind."

Meanwhile, Ballymena last night swooped to sign Aaron Burns.

The 27-year-old agreed a two-year contract, joining his twin brother Andrew at the club, following his release from Coleraine last week.

Burns scored seven goals in 36 games for the Bannsiders after moving from Linfield.

Upcoming fixtures: Tonight (7.45pm): Carrick v Ballymena, Glenavon v Coleraine (8pm); Tomorrow (3pm): Crusaders v Dungannon, Warrenpoint v Cliftonville

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