Ferguson warns United players against cup slip-up

Ballymena United.
Ballymena United.

GLENN Ferguson last night warned his Ballymena United players not to fall victim to an Irish Cup giant-killing act this weekend.

The Sky Blues embark upon their cup campaign this Saturday with a home tie against Championship One high-fliers Warrenpoint Town (3pm).

The County Down side have lost just twice in 10 league outings this term and have conceded just six goals in those matches.

Ferguson acknowledges that while being drawn at home to lower division opposition is as much as any senior team can ask for, it’s a tie that represents a potential banana skin.

“Warrenpoint proved it a couple of seasons ago when they beat Cliftonville on penalties after drawing with them home and away,” said Ferguson.

“They are probably stronger now than they were then because they’ve signed four or five boys from Newry after what happened there, so they will have plenty of experience.

“It will certainly not be easy but we had them watched on Saturday in their Intermediate Cup win over Portstewart and we will look at what their strengths and weaknesses are.

“We hadn’t seen them before now because a number of their matches had been called off recently but Joe McCall had a look at them

“Alan Davidson is from Warrenpoint and he also knows a good lot about them and his cousin actually plays for them so he knows a lot of players from down round there.”

Last year’s Irish Cup controversy – when United were dismissed from the competition following the infamous ineligibility row surrounding Davidson – still rankles with Ferguson, who believes it will provide Ballymena with extra incentive for this year’s cup campaign.

“As I always say to the players, in cup competitions it’s the luck of the draw – you could get teams who you’re capable of beating the whole way through and find yourself in the final.

“Last year we had a good run in the Irish Cup until it all came to an unfortunate end so I’ll be telling the boys that they can go a step further this time around,” added Ferguson, who is likely to hand a debut to Gary Liggett after completing the signing of the Lisburn Distillery striker on an 18-month contract.

“I played with Gary and also coached him at the Whites, so I know plenty about him.

“He has scored 14 goals already this season, and Distillery have been struggling at the bottom of the table. So he knows where the net is.

“I know there were a few clubs interested in him, including the likes of Dungannon and Coleraine so we are delighted that he has chosen Ballymena,” added Glenn.

Match sponsor for the Irish Cup match is the Paramount Supporters Club, while the match ball will be sponsored by Michelin Athletic Club.

Members are reminded that season tickets are not valid for Saturday’s match.

* Paramount SC holds its monthly table quiz this Friday night, January 11, in the Bowling Club (8.30pm).

* Ferguson is hoping to have defender Johnny Taylor available for selection shortly amid hopes that his knee injury - which was expected to keep him out for the remainder of the season - might not be as bad as initially feared.

“Johnny is to go back to the specialist at the end of the month and it will be either yea or nay (to an operation).

“But it’s certainly a hell of a lot more positive than when it first

“He’s been able to train and keep himself in good shape and he wants to get back so it’s fingers crossed that he doesn’t need surgery because if not, he’ll be ready to go in a few weeks,” added Ferguson.