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Warrenpoint Town have 'pressure' on Dungannon tie as distance from the bottom crucial, admits Barry Gray


Barry Gray

Barry Gray

�INPHO/Brian Little

Barry Gray

While much of the spotlight will fall on Solitude this afternoon, there's a crucial match for two sides in the bottom half.

Victory really would represent three precious points for Warrenpoint Town and Dungannon Swifts when they clash at Milltown.

A win for the home side would lift them seven points ahead of second-from-bottom Swifts.

With the winter chill causing some concern, there will be a pitch inspection at Milltown at 10.30am.

Town boss Gray was unhappy at his side's second-half collapse at Crusaders but the break over the festive period disrupted momentum.

It's battles like the one today, rather than away to Crusaders, which will determine whether Town can maintain their excellent start to the season.

"It's a crucial game for us," acknowledged Gray. "Everyone gets carried away at the start of the season, but the reality is we need to put three teams comfortably underneath us and I say that respectfully, I don't care which three teams.

"We can't consider creeping anywhere else until we do that. There is pressure on the Dungannon game but we have already beaten them this season away. No doubt they will be frustrated from their defeat and we will need to be wary of them.

"It's been a normal week for us which should help."

Gray felt his side were a little rusty at Seaview after the enforced festive break

"The break has been tough for us. No dressing room, no fans, it just doesn't feel the same," added the former Cliftonville boss. "We are at the tail end of the holiday period and it's not easy if you haven't been training right through.

"I believe in working the players hard and keeping them focused. I'm left struggling to understand why we were so disjointed.

"We got what we expected from Crusaders and while legs were rested over Christmas this wasn't us at our competitive best."

With the league about to take a two-week break due to the pandemic, Gray accepts the fixtures calendar could get heavier.

He added: "It's challenging to do what we are doing. If English teams had our fixture list, players would be going on strike.

"Part-time players are playing twice a week for a month and there could be more call-offs.

"From a player welfare point of view you have to be very careful.

"I wouldn't like to be challenging for a league title and have those stakes in the circumstances we are in."

Belfast Telegraph