Ballymena United captain Jim Ervin ready for Seaview test

Ballymena United's Jim Ervin
Ballymena United's Jim Ervin

Ballymena United skipper Jim Ervin wants to put the defeat to Dungannon Swifts in the BetMcLean League Cup Final behind him as his side travel to the Shore Road to face Crusaders at Seaview.

A fixture against the League leaders would have been the last thing the Sky Blues would have wanted after last Saturday’s 3-1 final defeat to the Swifts.

But Ervin - who was disappointed with United’s showing last weekend - believes the Sky Blues know what to expect from Stephen Baxter’s high flyers.

“It is the most difficult game in the league - going away to Crusaders. We know what it’s like playing there.

“We have been there before this season and found it very difficult - but these are the games that you want to be involved in when you want to test yourself and the squad you are part of against the top sides.

“It’s a difficult task, but is one we will relish and it is one we are looking forward to and see what we can produce.”

And Ervin says the Crues - under manager Baxter - are a very good side who know how to hurt teams.

“They can mix it. They have big Jordan Owens up-front and they can play it directly to him if they need to.

“They also have quality players within their side. Paul Heatley and Gavin Whyte are good footballers and they have been superb this season.

“They have quality all over the field and even when you look at their bench they have players who could walk into any Irish League side.

“They have quality all over the place and they are a very good side.”

The former Linfield player says United want a top six finish in the league and to also progress in the Irish Cup.

“The top six is our aim and Glentoran are two points ahead of us but we have two games in hand.

“But you want to get points on the board and we will be going to Seaview on Saturday to win the game.

“We will not be going there looking for a draw or to keep the score down. We will have a game plan to win the game and we will be taking the game to Crusaders.

“That is the best way to approach it because if you go to Crusaders and hang back, you will end up with egg on your face.

“The best form of defence is attack from the off.”

And Crusaders striker Jordan Owens is looking forward to trying to keep the Seaview outfit at the top of the league after the disappointment of going out of the League Cup, Irish Cup and Irn Bru Cup.

“We had lots of games and we had to shuffle things about and we had a bad week.

“But the league is the one we target and hopefully come the end of the season we can get the job done after what happened last year.

“We have big games coming up and that starts with Ballymena United on Saturday.

“We have a big squad now and we have a big game against Ballymena so we will see what happens.”

Owens will be looking to get among the goals tomorrow as the big striker has by his high standards only scored 14 goals so far this season.

“I would like to be around the 20 mark at this stage of the season, so I will have to get a move on as the end of the season is not that far away.

“The manager has brought Darren Murray in to give me a bit of a hand. He scored two on his debut so hopefully he can help us win the league title this season.

“I think the boss was looking for a centre forward as we were a bit short up-front.

“And he has settled in well and scored a few goals so hopefully he can score more before the end of the season.”

And Owens says he loves playing with Whyte and Heatley.

“I just flick it on and they hurt teams with their pace. They are brilliant and I have played with them for the last three years and they are also scoring goals at the minute.”