Walker to make changes for Seaview game

BALLYMENA United boss Roy Walker will shuffle his pack ahead of Thursday night's rescheduled Carling Premiership match at Crusaders (7.45pm).

Saturday's defeat at Linfield should have signified the end of the first section of the league championship before the 12 teams split into two sections of six but United still have two away games outstanding, which were postponed during the prolonged spell of bad weather.

United complete the first part of their programme at Lisburn Distillery next Tuesday night but before then it's a first experience of the 4G pitch at Seaview, which boss Roy Walker has jokingly described as the "drastic plastic".

"We will try and play a team that suits the conditions.

"I have an idea what that team might be and I would expect a few changes because there are one or two carrying strains and knocks and one or two coming back who we would have to seriously consider if the surface would be conducive to them lasting the pace.

"We hope to have Aidan Watson back after a hamstring strain – he really shouldn't have played the previous week and that ended up keeping him out of Saturday's game at Linfield.

"On the plus side, we had Darren Lockhart and Albert Watson back at the weekend for the first time in four weeks and that will have done them good. They are the sort of players who are the glue that gels the team together.

"There are still plenty of games to be played in the two-and-a-bit weeks between now and the semi-final and if we let our mind race to the semi-final, we could forget about the job in hand," added Walker.

Full-back Michael Smith's record of playing every minute of every match this season is under threat because of a knock – indeed, Saturday's defeat at Linfield saw the defender reach a notable milestone of starting every one of Ballymena's last 50 matches, dating back to the latter part of last season.

Seven Towers Supporters' Club transport to Thursday night's match leaves Henry Street car park at 7pm.

Towers members and non members are reminded that bus tickets for the Irish Cup semi-final on April 10 MUST be pre-booked and this can be done by contacting Tommy Patterson (2564 8732), Uel Allen (2564 2903) or Davy McCaig (07849 162945).