Glenn Ferguson has challenged his Ballymena United players to replicate their best performance of the season this weekend.
The Sky Blues upset the odds last month when they defeated league champions Crusaders to set up next week’s Toals County Antrim Shield semi-final against Larne.
Now, as they prepare to return to Seaview in the league this Saturday (3pm), Ferguson said: “The League Cup win at Crusaders was one of our best performances in a long time.
“I’ve a feeling this week’s game might be completely different because Crusaders’ 100 per cent focus is on the league and they are proving that.
“It’s going to be a difficult day but we will go and try to play and encourage the players to believe in themselves and encourage them to play, because they can play.
“I told the players if their level of performance is up there, they will be in the team.
“It’s consistency we’re looking for and if it drops one week, there has to be changes.
“We have to utilise the squad as much as possible and keep them hungry. Everybody wants a settled XI week in, week out, winning matches with no injuries but it doesn’t work like that.
Ferguson will check on the fitness of teenage striker Matthew Shevlin, who limped out of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Portadown wit ha knock, while the manager has also hinted that midfielder Mark Magennis could come back into the reckoning.
“Magennis did well against Coleraine, it was just the shape of the team that dictated that he didn’t start against Portadown but that might well change this week,” added Ferguson.
* Tickets for next week’s Shield semi-final are now on sale from the following outlets: The Kiosk Newsagents, Ballymena Railway Station (Monday to Saturday 5am to 6pm and Sunday 5am to 1pm); Stirling Trophies, Queen Street; and David McCaig.
Supporters are reminded that the game at Inver Park is an all-ticket fixture.
* Paramount SC holds its monthly table quiz in the Bowling Club this Friday evening (8.30pm)