IRISH LEAGUE PREVIEW: Ballymena United v LinfieldE

Ballymena's Jonathan McMurray
Ballymena's Jonathan McMurray

Ballymena United captain Jim Ervin admits the Sky Blues will have to tighten up at the back if they are to get anything off Linfield on Friday night (7.45pm).

David Jeffrey’s side have conceded 32 goals in their 14 Danske Bank Premiership games to date and Ervin knows that has to improve starting tonight against Linfield.

“In terms of the goals we have conceded it is no secret that we give away too many goals.

“The difference last year was we outscored teams and I think that has been the big difference this year.

“This season we have conceded loads of goals and haven’t punished teams when we have been on top.

“It is difficult but David Jeffrey has us working hard on it in training and that is all we can do.,

“We can work very hard in training but it is delivering the goods during a match is what counts.

“But it is something we have worked on over the last number of weeks.”

United have only scored 22 league goals this season but Ervin believes the return of the injured Johnny McMurray could help turn their season around if he once again clicks with strike partner Cathair Friel.

“Johnny has been a big miss for us. He gives us something different up-front in terms of his movement.

“How he hassles defenders, he is nonstop. It is a big plus to have him back and Friel thrives playing alongside McMurray and it is just a case of getting those two boys ticking again.

“But if we are creating chances as a group we should be taking those chances if they are from set-pieces or open play we must be more clinical.

“And that goes for us at the back as well, We have to be more clinical in our defending,” said Ervin.

And Ervin knows that last season’s triple winners Linfield will be coming to do a job on Jeffrey’s men as they look to make up ground on league leaders Coleraine.

“It’s a massive game and it is always a massive game when Linfield come to town.

“It is one we are looking forward to and hopefully we can get something from it.

“They have a very good squad but we know things have not been rosy for them recently.

“They have been struggling in recent weeks but they had a good result last weekend against Ballinamallard.

“But before that they were finding things difficult and hopefully we can capitalise on that, make it hard for them an frustrate them.

“And we always create chances and that is something we always do. But if we do create chances then we have to take them.

“We just need to be clinical and take our chances.”

United are lying eighth in the league standings having only won four of their 14 game so far - while losing seven.

Ervin admits it is not been good enough and that the team are thankful for the continued support of the Sky Blues faithful.

“The fans are always there and they are backing us. It is the one thing that is always there and you to give them credit for that after some of the things they have seen this season it must have been difficult for them.

“But the one thing that has remained positive is the home and away support we have had.

“They back us 0ne hundred percent and that is all that we can ask.

“I have to tell you the support we have had this year has been fantastic and we just hope that continues and we are working as hard as we can to give the fans something to cheer about,” he added.