United players facing yellow peril ahead of semi-final
SIX Ballymena United players are walking a disciplinary tightrope ahead of next month's Irish Cup semi-final against Portadown, Times Sport can reveal.
The players are all just one booking away from missing the April 10 clash through suspension.
Lee Colligan, Mark Surgenor, Albert Watson and Kevin Kelbie are all on four bookings and another yellow card would see them have to serve a one match ban.
Midfielders Gavin Taggart and Darren Lockhart are both on nine cautions, one away from the 10-card mark which last season would have resulted in a three-game ban. Fortunately, that rule was altered this season and now just carries a one-match suspension.
It is a further ball for manager Roy Walker to juggle between now and the semi-final, with the United boss determined his side's season won't just peter out between now and the semi.
"There are semi-final places up for grabs and even beyond that players are playing for their futures at the club," said Walker.
"The players need to know there are no automatic shoe-ins when it comes to places on the team."
United are all but safe from the threat of relegation but will be keen to finish as high up the bottom half of the table as possible in order to attain more prize money.
Incidentally, the fixtures for the remainder of the season after the league splits later this month were revealed this week.
Ballymena's remaining fixtures are: April 3 - Newry City (a); April 6 - Portadown (a) or Coleraine (h), depending on which team fails to make the top six; April 17 - Institute (h); April 24 - Lisburn Distillery (h); May 1 - Glenavon (a).
United travel to Linfield this Saturday, with Seven Towers Supporters' Club transport leaving Henry Street car park at 1.45pm.
The Towers club is also currently selling bus tickets for the Irish Cup semi-final and these must be pre-ordered in order to give an accurate idea of the number of buses required.
They can be obtained from Towers officials Tommy Patterson (2564 8732), Uel Allen (2564 2903) or Davy McCaig (07849 162945).