Tobermore United manager Adrian Whiteside wants his team to spring a surprise result against Knockbreda in the Coca-Cola Intermediate Cup quarter-final to continue the positive momentum they have been building up over the last few weeks.
The Magherafelt club are showing signs of improvement after a difficult opening few months to the campaign, and are well poised with games in hand to ensure they don’t have a relegation battle on their hands as the campaign reaches its climax.
Whiteside believes that reaching the Intermediate Cup semi-final would aid that last push to safety.
A comprehensive 6-1 victory over Amateur League Premier Division side Ardglass last week has helped promote a level of self-belief in the side currently just one place against the bottom two of Belfast Telegraph Championship Two.
Knockbreda, on the other hand, are still in with a chance of challenging for Championship One honours – yet Whiteside is backing his players to cause an upset.
He told The Park: “I rate our chances. Of course we are the underdogs, but this is a quarter-final and anything can happen.
“Coming down from Championship One, we lost a lot of our players and had to get new, young guys in. It has taken a while, but we are getting better with experience.
“I personally think we are in a false position, but it is a matter of finding some consistency.
“PSNI are at the top of our division, and only beat us 2-1 in the Irish Cup. When we played them in the league, they were 3-2 up and we hit the post with two minutes left. Armagh have done rightly in the Irish Cup, and we hammered them for 65 minutes and they only beat us 2-1.
“The encouraging signs are all there, and if we can get through to the next round of the Intermediate Cup, it will help add to the buzz around the club at the minute.”
Things are certainly a lot different at Knockbreda since the last time Whiteside faced the Upper Braniel Road side. Back then, he was playing for Tobermore, and ‘Breda were an Amateur League outfit.
Now, Hugh Sinclair’s side have an Intermediate Cup from 2009 among their honours, and are one of the top sides at Intermediate level.
And Whiteside admits his respect for them has grown over the years.
“You have to give them credit for coming up through the ranks,” said the Tobermore boss. “It’s different for us, we are trying to build ourselves up again, but we have always been in the First and Second Division, but they have come all the way up since I would have played against them
“We are under no illusions, they are one of the best teams in the Championship, but if we take our chances, like we did against Ardglass, we will give ourselves a chance.”
The aim for Tobermore is to give themselves a springboard for better things next season, and with last season’s leading goal-scorer Neil Lamont returning to light training after a four-month absence due to injury, there is every hope they can continue on an upward curve.
A win against Knockbreda would keep that sense alive.
Among the other quarter-finals, Ballyclare Comrades and Armagh City will be hoping to overcome their disappointment over Irish Cup exits at the weekend as they clash with each other at Dixon Park. Ballyclare were comprehensively hammered 5-0 by Crusaders, but City could consider themselves unlucky to have conceded a last minute sucker punch in their 2-1 defeat by Glentoran.
Bangor will similarly be looking to right their own Irish Cup wrongs, after losing out to Queen’s University at the weekend, and this Saturday they travel to Ballymoney, as they bid to book an Intermediate Cup semi-final spot.
In the remaining tie, it’s a case of a Championship One top v bottom face-off as league leaders Institute host struggling Coagh United.