Belfast Telegraph

Shankill's Robinson keeps focus on his own team ahead of 1st Bangor tie

By Martin Mawhinney

Shankill United manager Robert Robinson is targeting a place in the Border Cup third round, as his side bid to continue the promising start they have made to the campaign.

The former Linfield goalkeeper has yet to reach the anniversary of his arrival at the club last season, and the signs are already looking decidedly positive.

Currently sixth in the Amateur League Premier Division, with six points from four games, the initial aim will be to avoid any repeat of last season, where they found themselves staving off the potential of relegation for the vast majority of the season. They will then seek to build from there and challenge for silverware where possible.

The prospect of realising the latter objective can become closer with a Border Cup second round victory at home to 1st Bangor OB this Saturday - a game in which the Premier Division hosts will be clear favourites against their Division 1B opponents.

But Robinson insists he is not concerned about what the upset-seeking visitors will throw-up by way of threat, but that is consistent with his general outlook, regardless of who his team is due to face.

The Shankill manager said: “If I am being honest, I don’t worry about other teams. I put my team out, and I know that we are good enough to beat anyone on our day. If things aren’t going to plan, I know we can play two or three different systems.

“I want us to be competitive this season, and that means winning as many games as possible, in all competitions. That is the only way we can get a winning mentality.

“Even in the games we have lost, against Immaculata and Albert Foundry - two of the top teams in our division - we have been competitive. We should have got something out of both games, but the experience will benefit the boys anyway.”

The fact that Shankill have amassed the same number of points by this stage that they had after 13 games when Robinson took charge around Christmas last year speaks volumes for how far he has taken them already.

And he is determined to steer them clear of any relegation woes while he is at the helm.

Reflecting on last season’s struggles, he admitted: “It was horrible. But, at the same time, I genuinely didn’t have any doubt that we would stay up.

“This is a club close to my heart, and it was a no-brainer to apply to be the manager. The potential of the club is huge, with the facilities and everything.”

After escaping the drop with four points to spare in the end, the pleasing thing for Robinson has been strengthening the squad that finished the season with so much promise.

Players have been brought in from the lower divisions, including from Lower Shankill, Bangor Amateurs and Kelvin OB, and among those are young players but also others with Championship experience.

It’s early days to be making any sort of assessment, but to find his side as the Amateur League top flight’s second highest scorers, with 10 goals distributed evenly between the midfield and attack has to be encouraging to Robinson at this stage.

He added: “It is coming along well. There is quality right through this side, and it all bodes well for the future.”     

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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