Belfast Telegraph

Loughgall boss McKinstry ready for a tough tie against Bangor

Loughgall manager Gary McKinstry expects Saturday's Belfast Telegraph Championship One game against in-form Bangor at Lakeview Park to be something of a battle.

The former Armagh City boss said: “There are no easy games in the Championship.

“Every match is a physical battle and you have to show that you're up for the challenge. We need to realise that if you don't get in people's faces early on, then teams like Knockbreda and Larne will trample over you.

“I expect a similar battle against Bangor on Saturday. Garth Scates will have his side motivated, as they will want to keep their good run of form going.

“Bangor were near the bottom of the table last season and they were fortunate not to go down. But they were always going to improve this season, as I know the directors and people of Bangor wouldn't put up with those sorts of results for long.

“Now they've got players like Stephen O'Neill, who can cause anyone problems. Stevie scored goals for teams like Cliftonville and Donegal Celtic, so he's someone we will have to keep an eye on.”

Former Glenavon forward McKinstry replaced Colin Malone as manager just a few days before the start of the season after the Loughgall board took decisive action following a string of poor pre-season performances.

McKinstry admits it was not an ideal situation for him to walk into.

“We had a difficult start to the season, as I was working with a group of players that I didn't sign.

“Colin Malone had brought a number of new faces to the club in the summer, but with the way things transpired, it was up to me to get them to gel. It's been a slow process but I think we're starting to make progress now.

“It's my job to make Loughgall a more fluent team, with a better balance. On paper we have a lot of quality but it's up to me to get that out of them.

“I want to make Lakeview Park a fortress again, but to do that we need to develop the sort of camaraderie and friendship that used to exist at Loughgall.

“Last season was difficult for the players. Even though we won the Bob Radcliffe Cup, we struggled in the league and it was a hard season for everyone involved. We need to put a little bit of confidence back into the players.”

Although McKinstry believes in his current crop of players, he says he will change things in January if results don't improve.

"At the moment my aim is to solidify our position in mid-table. We have a squad capable of achieving that but the players have to realise they are playing for their future. If they are under-performing I will bring in players I know will do a job for me after Christmas.”

You can find out how Loughgall got on against Bangor in Monday's edition of The Park online. We will also have all the latest news and reports from both Championship One and Championship Two.

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