Cup exit leaves Wakehurst to focus on league survival

Full-back Conor Ross surges forward during Wakehurst's weekend defeat at Portstewart.
Full-back Conor Ross surges forward during Wakehurst's weekend defeat at Portstewart.

Wakehurst will now focus on league survival after their last tilt at cup glory ended at the weekend.

The Ballymena men bowed out of the IFA Intermediate Cup after a 4-0 defeat at Portstewart.

Despite the scoreline, interim manager Dougie Stevenson took some comfort from his side’s performance in difficult conditions.

“The wind was horrendous, almost to the point where the goalkeeper could have tried to clear the ball and it could have ended up going back over his head,” said Stevenson.

“It meant there was no real chance of playing any football and it was a scrap but we acquitted ourselves pretty well.”

As well as a number of player departures over the past couple of weeks, Wakehurst also went into the game without striker Conor Gregg, cup-tied after playing for Moyola Park earlier in the competition.

That gave an opportunity to John Alexander and he had Wakehurst’s best chance of a scoreless first half after Andy Laughlin rounded the keeper before squaring the ball to Alexander but his effort was cleared off the line by a defender.

“We knew we were going to be under a bit of pressure playing against the wind in the second half but Portstewart’s first two goals were a bit freakish - the first one was a free kick crossed in from a wide position which caught on the wind and drifted straight in and the second was the same thing, only this time direct from a corner.

“It left us chasing the game and then they got what I felt was a soft-looking penalty to kill the game off and they scored virtually on the final whistle.

“It leaves us to concentrate on trying to avoid relegation and everybody is showing a good attitude towards that.

“It’s the old cliché but we are literally looking only at the next game and no-one is saying ‘we have a grim struggle ahead of us’.

“We go to Queen’s on Saturday and although they’re not as strong as when they reached the Irish Cup semis a couple of years ago, they are a decent, energetic outfit so it will be a big test,” added Stevenson.

Wakehurst: Cairns, Ross, Swan, Colville, McCartney, Lemon, Mellon, Laughlin, Price, Young, Alexander. Subs: Adams, Allen, Armstrong, Quigley, Connolly.