Beating Warrenpoint would send message to league

Carrick boss Michael Hughes reckons the best way to compensate the supporters for the loss of yet another fixture to the weather last weekend is for the new-look team to perform to their optimum this Saturday and beat what he believes is one of the best teams in Championship One. He is not making any promises, but he has tremendous belief in his new squad!

That Carrick Rangers didn’t get to the chance build on the momentum of the long overdue win against Coagh United seven days earlier was bad enough, but the reward for a home win last Saturday over Loughgall - a jump to sixth spot - would have been immense.

“It was unfortunate that there was just too much rain, but there was nothing more we could have done in our attempts to get the pitch ready,” he explained. “I know how disappointed people were, but we will get our chance again against Loughgall.

“It’s no secret that we are still suffering after having a newly-laid pitch last summer. The problem was the water lying on the surface. If you dig three or four inches down, the soil is dry. But there has been so much heavy rain that the top of the ground is saturated and the water can’t get away.

“We got some work done on it last Thursday, Friday and again on Saturday morning in an attempt to make it playable. The main problem was the bottom left-hand corner.

“I am absolutely confident that we will be okay this weekend. The forecast is for a few days of sunshine and that should make all the difference. We will be able to go down and dig some trenches on either side of the bad area and that will help. We will hopefully get it spiked by the council, if the weather permits them to get a tractor on the pitch.

“Then come the summer we can get stuck in and provide some new drains in the bottom half of the ground and try to alleviate what is a real problem patch,” he assured.

Had Carrick gained three points at Loughgall’s expense, they would have moved up a remarkable four places in the table. And they would still have had at least two games in hand over every single team in the division. But Hughes is not too annoyed about that.

“I’m not anxious to start galloping up the table, overtaking teams who are not playing. I would much prefer to sneak up on the rails and then have people wondering we’ve come from,” he quipped.

“But I realise we will send out a big signal to all and sundry if we can get a win over Warrenpoint on Saturday. They are a very good side and we will clearly have to be playing well to get the result we desire.

“This squad is full of quality, everybody is very sharp and they are straining at the leash to get out there and get at it. There’s an immense hunger and I am very happy and comfortable with our prospects for the rest of the season.

“But, I have said to the players that talk is cheap and what I or anybody else thinks or says does not matter a jot. The important talking is done by performances on the pitch, allied to results. I still say that games in hand are nice to have, but they do not guarantee you any points – just a few more chances to get them on the board.

“Warrenpoint will come here on a high after their win over Ards, but confidence is high here as well and, while I admit that I am full of anticipation, it will be interesting to see how we get on against one of the best teams around.”

Report by Kevin Hughes