In-form Boyce wants to take goal streak into final

Darren Boyce is aiming to play a starring role in Saturday's League Cup final. Picture: Press Eye.
Darren Boyce is aiming to play a starring role in Saturday's League Cup final. Picture: Press Eye.

Ballymena United’s man of the moment insists he has some unfinished business in Saturday’s showdown with Cliftonville.

Darren Boyce is currently on a hot streak, having scored five goals in United’s last five matches.

Now the striker is hoping he can continue that rich vein of form as he attempts to exorcise his own demons from the Irish Cup final defeat to Glenavon last May.

“I had one of my worst games in a Ballymena shirt that day,” recalls a grimacing Boyce.

“I just couldn’t get into the game and I don’t want this one to pass me by as well.

“I want to play in every game possible but at the same time, cup finals don’t come along often and you don’t want to miss out on those.”

Boyce’s goal in Saturday’s remarkable 5-5 draw at Portadown took his tally for the season to double figures and it’s perhaps no coincidence that his recent goalscoring spree has coincided with news of the arrival of Gary McCutcheon, bringing extra competition for places in attack.

“I’m always on my toes but I knew from playing against Gary previously that we were getting a quality player.

“If anything he helps my game because he plays the right balls in behind at the right times and my game is about trying to get in behind defenders.”

With McCutcheon ineligible for the cup final, having played for Crusaders earlier in the tournament, it will force a reshuffle of manager Glenn Ferguson’s attacking plans and will also put an added emphasis on Boyce’s strike partnership with Matthew Tipton, which has already yielded an impressive 26 goals this season.

“We know that we won’t have Cutchy for the final but there’s no guarantee that either myself or Matthew Tipton will play.

“David Cushley has come back in after injury and now that he has built up his fitness and got a bit of game time, he will be knocking on the door as well.

“Myself and Tippy know that we can’t slack off at all because we want to be involved in this cup final.”

Boyce also refuses to read too much into United’s dismal recent record at the hands of Saturday’s opponents

“The 7-0 was a strange game because I thought we were the best team in the first half that day.

“But you can’t make excuses for a 7-0 defeat, that’s not acceptable.

“They are a quality side, full of great players.

“They hit a wee bit of a bad patch over the turn of the year but they have showed signs of getting back to form again.

“They will be hard to beat but Glenn and the staff will have the players all ready for it.

“The Irish Cup final against Glenavon was more of a 50/50 call but Cliftonville will go into this one as favourites, which maybe isn’t a bad thing for us because most of the pressure will be on them.

Victory at Windsor Park would round off a memorable personal few days for the striker.

I’m 29 the day after the cup final so it would make for a great birthday weekend if we could win the trophy,” added darren