Jim Ervin hoping for a derby response
Ballymena United Captain Jim Ervin is confident the Sky Blues can put their Irish Cup exit behind them as they travel to Coleraine this Saturday in the Danske Bank Premiership.
United slipped to a disappointing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Crusaders in their Tennent’s Irish Cup quarter-final clash on last week as goals from Jordan Forsythe, Jordan Owens and Billy Joe Burns sealed the win for the Shore Road club.
But now United travel to the Bannsiders looking to make up ground on league leaders Linfield and keep a gap between themselves and the third placed Crues.
“Linfield have a big advantage,” said Ervin.
“They are nine points clear but we have a game in hand.
“There are nine games left and it is just up to us to win as many games as possible until the end of the season and see what happens
“There is no better game to lift ourselves for than Coleraine who will be on a high after their Cup win against Larne.
“We will have to bounce back and forget about what happened last week.”
Ervin admits they were disappointed with their display against the Crues in the Irish Cup.
“We are out of the Cup and we couldn’t have gone out in a worse way,” said the skipper.
“There was 10 minutes in the first half we were like the Ballymena United of old.
“Our defending was not good enough.”
United’s game at Seaview with their sixth in the last three weeks.
And although boss David Jeffrey was not looking to use it as an excuse, he did feel that it was one game too many for his players.
“I thought we had to go to the well too many times,” he said.
“We were a bit leggy and second in all departments.
“We have played some massive games over the last couple of weeks, and have performed tremendously well, but last Saturday was just one game too many.
“I am certainly not complaining about the number of games we have had to play, it’s because we have been doing so well.
“It’s not an excuse it’s a simple fact.
“We will get a bit of rest and reflection during the week and then focus our attention on the game against Coleraine.”
While Ballymena suffered Irish Cup heartache Colerainehave been boosted by their excellent comeback against Larne.
Boss Rodney McAree was thrilled by the scenes following the Bannsiders 5-3 victory.
“The supporters were terrific,” he said.
“When I think about the decision I made about coming to Coleraine, that epitomises everything that I wanted.
“You want to be involved in the big games in front of the big crowds and the big atmosphere, and I thought the supporters behind both goals were terrific.
“When I saw the celebrations last year after Coleraine’s semi final win I thought that is something I want to be involved in.”
There has been nothing between the old rivals so far this season with both games to date ending in a draw despite the Bannsiders finishing with only ten on both occasions.
McAree is expecting another keenly contested encounter at The Showgrounds on Saturday, but he is hoping the morale boosting win over Larne will stand his side in goo stead.
“It’s a tough game and the fact it’s a derby makes it even tougher,” he said.
“We have to take the momentum from last Friday night into it and play to our full potential.
“Our games against Ballymena this season have been tight and I’m expecting something similar this time around.
“We have to check on a few knocks but it’s great we have a squad now.
“There are a lot of big games between now and the end of the season and it’s great to have competition for places.”