Football/Soccer

Reds looking to end away drought

DONN WELL: Jay Donnelly grabbed a hat-trick against Knockbreda in their County Antrim Shield game on Tuesday Photo Alan Weir/Pacemaker Press
By Padraig Kelly

Danske Bank Premiership

CLIFTONVILLE assistant manager Harry Fay is hoping that their trip to Carrick today can help ease the side's recent travelling pains.

This will be the fifth time this season that the Reds have been on the road, and they have collected just one point from a possible 12 to date.

On paper this is a very winnable fixture, but Fay said that if they perform at the same level as they have been doing recently, they could be staring at more away day blues.

“Overall the performances have been poor enough,” he said.

“Even at home they haven't been great although we have managed to pick up a few points there.

“We have been punished away from home for our sloppiness and for our mistakes.

“We just need to be a bit more careful and take our chances when they come.”

It's been a tough start to Barry Gray's time in charge of the Solitude outfit with just two league wins collected in seven outings – against Ards and Dungannon Swifts.

Fay isn't panicking though and feels that one top performance could open the door to a string of good results.

“We had a positive result during the week (against Knockbreda) and hopefully we can put a couple of wins back-to-back and kick on now.

“That's what we have been looking to do all the season but it's quite difficult at the moment because we're only starting to get a full handle on all the players.

“The one thing about them is that they have been working hard and I do think that there's a big result just around the corner.”

It may have been the County Antrim Shield rather than the league, but Tuesday's 6-0 win over Knockbreda was a real confidence booster, according to Fay.

That was particularly true of the attack with Jay Donnelly grabbing a hat-trick and Rory Donnelly grabbing his first goal since returning to the club. Ross Lavery and Ciaran Caldwell were also on target.

“Strikers like scoring goals, it's as simple as that,” Fay continued.

“Hopefully that will kick-start them because it is a big game for us.

“We need to get back to winning ways, we need to reward the supporters for their patience. A win will help to do that.”

A win for Rangers today would actually see them leapfrog Cliftonville in the table. That's despite the north Down side losing their last three games without scoring a goal.

The latest of those was a 3-0 defeat at the hands of table-toppers Coleraine, and you'd have to go all the way back to August 25 for their last league goal when Andrew Mooney grabbed his second of the day against Ballinamallard United.

“The quicker the wins start to come the better and hopefully this is the day that the first one comes,” Fay added.

Stats

Compiled by Padraig Kelly

Ballinamallard United v Ballymena United

BALLINAMALLARD have conceded nine goals in their last two games and Gavin Dyke's side desperately need their first win of the season to boost morale. Ballymena's recent resurgence was halted by Glentoran last weekend, but they did miss a lot of good opportunities. A clinical touch today should secure a third league win in four games.

Odds: H: 11/4 D: 11/4 A: 8/11

Verdict: Ballymena United

Carrick Rangers v Cliftonville

CARRICK have won one, drew one and lost one at home this season, and another win here would see them move above Cliftonville in the table. The Reds are yet to win on the road in the league this season, but should put that right today.

Odds: H: 10/3 D: 11/4 A: 4/6

Verdict: Cliftonville

Crusaders v Dungannon Swifts

CRUSADERS are now five points off leaders Coleraine after last week's slip up against Ards and they can't really afford to lose any more ground. The Swifts will be no pushover though having won three of their last four games, Ryan Harpur and Chris Hegarty grabbing the goals in the 2-1 win over Warrenpoint Town last time out.

Odds: H: 1/6 D: 5/1 A: 10/1

Verdict: Crusaders

Glenavon v Ards

ARDS produced one of the most notable results of the season last Saturday as they left Seaview with a 0-0 draw with Crusaders thanks to some fine goalkeeping from Aaron Hogg. They will have to be as equally resolute to deny top scorers Glenavon, who are averaging 3.4 goals per game.

Odds: H: 4/11 D: 7/2 A: 5/1

Verdict: Glenavon

Glentoran v Coleraine

COLERAINE'S 100 percent record is set for a stiff examination against a Glentoran side that has made a nice and steady start to the season. Gary Heavron's side have only lost once – to Linfield – this season, and were clinical away to Ballymena last weekend. The Bannsiders can take something from this match, but they may have to settle for one point rather than the usual three.

Odds: H: 5/2 D: 9/4 A: Evens

Verdict: Draw

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