Warrenpoint boss Barry Gray admits the underdogs tag will sit easily on the shoulders of his team in tonight’s BetMcLean League Cup semi-final showdown against Coleraine at the Showgrounds.
The sides approach the game with contrasting fortunes. Gray’s braves nicked an unexpected point against Linfield at the weekend, while the Bannsiders suffered a second successive Premiership defeat when beaten away to Glenavon.
Although Oran Kearney’s side, who are the holders of the trophy having beaten Crusaders in the 2020 final, go into the game as big favourites, Gray wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We are the underdog, massive underdogs, but that suits us fine,” he said. “That being the case, we’ve nothing to lose. We are looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m sure Coleraine will also be looking forward to it after losing their last two games. It is what it is, but after our showing at Windsor on Saturday, we can look forward to it that extra little bit.
“I think the secret was equalising soon after they (Linfield) had taken the lead. That helped us get a foothold in the game and we then began to create a few chances of our own.
“The boys were brave on the ball. In fact, we were brave in every aspect of our play. We thought if we got them in a half-time level, we would have something to hold on to.
“The same thing happened at Larne the previous week, but we let the second-half slip away from us, but against the Blues, we didn’t let that happen.
“We’ve worked extremely hard behind the scenes to make us a little bit more structured and difficult to beat, so it’s no mean feat to leave Windsor Park with a point.”
Gray is under no illusions that it will take another massive shift from his boys at the Showgrounds
“It was suggested to me before the weekend that I shouldn’t give full focus to the Linfield game because we have a big semi-final coming up — after all, it was the Blues at Windsor Park, so would it not be better concentrating on Tuesday?” added Gray
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury to do that, where we are sitting at the minute, we have to take as much out of every single game we can.
“No doubt, the shift the boys put in resulted in a lot of tired legs, but Coleraine also had a tough game against Glenavon and were beaten, so at least we left Windsor on a high.
“It should make it interesting, but we know what we are getting down there. We have to produce what we did against Linfield — and maybe a wee bit more.
“We just hope the players will be once again highly motivated, just as they were against the Blues. It’s a cup semi-final, we are only 90 minutes away from a final.
“It’s also a distraction from league business; the pressure of getting points will be off.”
Although Warrenpoint are still marooned at the bottom of the table, Gray reckons that will have no bearing on this game.
He added: “Admittedly, we’ve had a disastrous start to the season. The second half can’t be as bad. But if you keep looking back, you’ve problems.
“It’s easy for me to say that, but I know players do look back. At the minute, we are trying to inject positivity into the group — the result at Windsor Park will certainly help us do that.
“We’ve worked hard in previous weeks and have got no return for it. We used a system which we thought would suit us (against the Blues) and the boys carried out their jobs.”