Ballinamallard United manager Gavin Dykes says there will be no hiding place at Ferney Park on Saturday for a must win game against Ards.
With games running out, the Mallards find themselves seven points behind second from bottom Carrick so picking up three points against Ards is crucial in their battle for survival and Dykes expects it to be a tense affair.
“It was always going to be a massive game and there is no denying that we need three points, it’s as simple as that. We have nine games left and we can’t rely on other teams. Carrick have two wins in their last three games so we have got to go and get wins as well. It will be a tight tense affair but hopefully we can go and get a result.
“It’s about pressure and how you cope with it and there is no hiding place. Whatever eleven we pick to go out there have to stand up and do the business for the club and for themselves. Collectively, if we can get the three points it will give us a lift and then we go on to Glenavon. Ards won’t be easy, they have recruited quite well in the January window and they have got a few results so it will be tough and it is do or die so we have to go and try and win the game,” stated Dykes.
Dykes has never tasted relegation as a manager, and is aiming to keep that record in tact, but has as a player and he stresses that it is not something that will look good on the players CV should the Mallards go down this season.
“Relegation is a horrible thing, I’ve been relegated as a player but never as a manager and I don’t intend that to happen. As a player, I know it dents your own pride and the players have to understand that relegation does not look good on their CV. If they want to be Premier League players then the best chance they have is to get us results to keep us in the division.
“We want to be in the Premier League but to be in it we have to go and try and win matches. If we can go into the split within touching distance it will give us a chance but we have to close the gap,” he commented.
At times this season things have conspired against Ballinamallard but as far as Dykes is concerned, they just have not been good enough and that needs to change quickly.
“We can blame referees, bad decisions, missing chances or luck but at the end of the day we haven’t won enough football matches and that is my responsibility and as far as I’m concerned the buck stops with me. We haven’t been good enough, we have conceded an embarrassing amount of goals and we are where we are, we are the worst team in the division as the table doesn’t lie and we have to try and change that,” said Dykes.
And he wants his side to be brave in possession and produce a 90 minute performance this Saturday to try and close that gap to Carrick.
“We have played for 45, 60 and 70 minutes in games but I now need to get 90 minutes from everybody. I need people to be brave and being brave isn’t just going and heading balls, being brave is getting on the ball and passing it and taking our chances. I think going forward we have been good but defensively as a unit we have been very poor and we need to change that. The players now have to take responsibility and go out and win their own mini battles,” he added.
Dykes has a couple of suspensions to deal with for the game while Davy Kee is a doubt but he will be able to call on the experience of captain James McKenna and striker Stephen O’Flynn who missed the Dungannon game.
“Kee has a calf injury so he will be touch and go while Matty Smyth and Josh McIlwaine are suspended. McKenna and O’Flynn are available though and they will add a bit of leadership,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ballinamallard have confirmed that they have lodged a complaint with the IFA after Ryan Harpur played against them for Dungannon Swifts. The Mallards felt that Harpur should have been suspended for the game and it is now up to the IFA to make a decision on the matter.
“The club have made a complaint, I think the club were right to do it and hopefully it will go our way but we are just concentrating on the football on the pitch and trying to get a result on Saturday,” stated Dykes.