Ballinamallard's start to their debut Premier League campaign has defied all predictions, and manager Whitey Anderson reckons their table topping start can give the players the boost they need to compete with the best teams in the province.
"We know it was only one game but it gives the players confidence going into the next game against Ballymena," he said. "We are still many people's favourites to go down and I understand that, but at the minute we are working hard to buck the trend of championship sides going back down again and it's our intention to keep that going until the end of the season. I think we have shown in the past two weeks that we will certainly not be the easy touch that some clubs maybe thought we would be." And he admits that their position in the league table has surprised even himself.
"I never dreamt after two games we would be top of the league to be quite honest," he said. "There seems to be a fantastic buzz about the club and the area and everyone is taking an interest in it, and I'm just so delighted for the players. It's very important to hit the ground running at the start of the season and that's what we have done. We have to push on from here now though. We know that stronger tests lie ahead." The 5-0 thrashing of Lisburn Distillery owed much to Jason McCartney's hat-trick, but Whitey was quick to praise the contribution of every member in his squad.
"Jason McCartney is going to get all the plaudits because he scored a hat-trick but there were so many people who played a big part," he acknowledged. "We wanted to keep a clean sheet and everyone worked very hard. We had worked on set plays during the week because that was a problem we had against Dungannon and it all came to fruition on Saturday. Our possession was good and we always looked a threat when we had the ball, but the most important thing was the work ethic we had. Then when we made substitutions we brought on fresh legs and they added another bit of spice. All in all it was a very good day." The secret to their crushing win perhaps came from an unusual pre-match routine. Road works and diversions on the motorway meant the team bus arrived at the ground less than an hour before kick-off.
"I had to do the team talk on the bus," revealed Whitey. "It's a long time since I did that, but I think that's what I'm going to do in the future!" Ballymena are the next visitors to Ferney Park and they promise to provide a stern test for Ballinamallard.
"They have had a fantastic start to the season under Glenn Ferguson and we know they are a good team," he said. "They will be confident and they haven't conceded a goal yet. We had them watched on Saturday and I know they had us watched as well, and the prospects are for a very exciting match. I know it's going to be tough but the players have a lot of confidence and there's a bit of belief there now. Certainly Ferney Park will not be an easy place for anyone to come to this season." Whitey is hopeful that they will go into the match with a full squad available for selection. Goalkeeper Alvin Rouse and midfielder Davy Kee both picked up knocks against Distillery but should be fit for the weekend, while Steve Feeney played for the reserve side on Saturday and the manager will make a decision on his selection later in the week.