Time running out for Wakehurst relegation battle

Wakehurst's Ryan Young tussles for possession during Saturday's Championship Two game at Glebe Rangers.
Wakehurst's Ryan Young tussles for possession during Saturday's Championship Two game at Glebe Rangers.

Wakehurst interim manager Dougie Stevenson admits time is running out for his side to retain their Irish League status.

Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Glebe Rangers leaves the Ballymena men well adrift at the foot of NIFL Championship Two and staring relegation to one of the Province’s regional intermediate leagues in the face, with four team facing the drop as the division reduces to 12 teams from next season.

“We’re 14 points from safety with only 11 games left to play,” Stevenson told Times Sport.

“The mathematics don’t lie - we’re going to need to get an awful lot of points from those remaining games if we’re going to save ourselves.

“Saturday was disappointing because we were a goal up and we had felt it was a game that we could get something out of.”

Having knocked Glebe out of the Irish Cup earlier in the campaign, Wakehurst started confidently and were rewarded when Conor Gregg continued his rich vein of scoring form since his January return from Moyola when he curled home a 25-yard free kick.

The home side came close to an equaliser when former Ballymena United reserve team player Zach Barr hit the post when through one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Wakehurst maintained their one lead into the second period and were looking reasonably comfortable when a miscued Glebe shot turned into a cross and was glanced home for the equaliser.

Disaster struck for Wakehurst with 20 minutes left when a long throw in caused confusion in the visitors’ penalty area and the ball ricocheted off a number of bodies with Wakehurst’s Stephen Mellon unfortunate to get the final touch past debutant keeper Ryan Armstrong.

“In a way that goal summed up our season - it really is a truism that when you’re luck’s not in, it’s not in.

“It was hard to take for the boys but they’re still in good spirits and we just have to pick ourselves for our next game, at home to Tobermore.”

It was against the mid-Ulster side that Wakehurst claimed their only league win to date earlier in the season but Tobermore have since moved up to third in the table and will be keen to maintain their promotion push.

“It will certainly be a tough game but one result could make such a big difference to the remainder of our season,” added Stevenson.

Wakehurst: Armstrong, Millar, Swan, G Young, Price, R Young, Mellon, Laughlin, Lemon, Bradley, Gregg. Subs: Adams, Alexander, Allen, Colville, Speirs.