Glenn Ferguson admits that Ballymena United’s season hinges upon victory in Saturday’s Irish Cup tie at Cliftonville.
After defeat by the same opponents in last week’s League Cup final, and with the chances of a top six finish in the league diminishing by the week, Saturday’s Solitude trip has a feeling of ‘win or bust’ about it for United’s season.
“It’s a big opportunity for us to keep the season alive,” said Ferguson.
“The more players we have available for that game the better and we need players who are in top condition and ready to give everything they have in that game because it could be the defining moment in our season in terms of what we have to play for.
“We have to go and give a good performance and get ourselves into the hat but we need to be better on the ball than we were against Linfield.
“If we play well and deserve to go through, I’m confident we will go through but if we defend poorly, we won’t,” added Ferguson, who will be without cup-tied Eamonn McAllister but recent signing Paddy McNally is available.
Newly-signed Australian goalkeeper Tim Allen is also eligible to play after the necessary documentation was completed this week.
United had submitted the paperwork for the 22-year-old’s move with the Irish Football Association before the transfer window closed last Saturday but the international clearance from the football authorities in the USA - where Allen had last been playing - did not come until earlier this week.
Ballymena were concerned that because Allen’s move was only fully completed after the transfer window had closed, that he might not be eligible to play in the Irish Cup - the same rule which led to United’s expulsion from the competition in 2012.
However, the club has since received written confirmation from the IFA that the goalkeeper can play in the competition this season.
* Seven Towers SC transport leaves Henry Street car park at 1.45pm, while the Paradise SC bus leaves the Fountain Bar at 12.30pm.
Spectator buses are requested to be at Fortwilliam roundabout for between 2-2.15pm where PSNI will meet and escort buses to the ground.