Dergview still have eyes on top six despite heavy loss

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Ballyclare Comrades ...5 Dergview ...1 DERGVIEW ended 2016 on a miserable note after a loss at second-placed Ballyclare Comrades on Friday evening.
In truth, the final scoreline didn't tell the whole story and two goals, one truly bizarre, in the dying moments put real gloss on Comrades' tenth win of the season.
However, the defeat means Dergview have a real battle on their hands to finish in the top six and, if the Darragh Park outfit still harbour ambitions of gatecrashing the promotion party, then they have been left with no margin for error in the second half of the season.
Derg boss Clarke insists it will be a tall order.
“Friday night was a disappointing result although it wasn't quite as bad as it looked," he said.
“We travelled without a number of players and Ryan Campbell and Richard Lecky both had good opportunities in the first half before Ballyclare took a half-time lead with a goal that was clearly offside.
“They scored a second and third after half-time before we pulled one back through Aaron Arkinson. That goal had them rocking a wee bit before a freak fourth goal ended our challenge late on.
“But we're still in with a chance of the top six, although the gap to the top three is maybe looking beyond us at this stage."
Without the suspended Ivan Sproule, Nathan Cashel and goalkeeper Kealan Mulcahy, the visitors began on the front foot with Campbell having a number of opportunities, the best of which the keeper saved brilliantly with his legs when the striker was put through one-on-one.
Lecky then headed the wrong side of a post from a Garth Falconer free kick before Thomas Robinson, looking suspiciously offside, cut into the box at the other end to fire a low shot past Alan Buchanan for the half-time lead.
Comrades increased their advantage on 52 minutes, when Dean Youle headed in from three yards, after getting on the end of a Mark Shannon free-kick and shortly afterwards Robinson got his second when he ran onto a pass from Michael O'Hanlon to smash home from inside the box.
Dergview threatened a comeback when Arkinson swept the ball home following a free kick. However any hopes of a meaningful revival were extinguished when Ballyclare netted twice in the final five minutes.
A bizarre goal from Corey McMullan came when he blocked a counter-attack and the ball flew back over the head of the stranded Buchanan from some 40 yards out.
And two minutes into injury-time Dergview's misery was complete when Chris Trussell raced through to score the fifth.
For the visitors, who have confirmed the signing of Ballinamallard United goalkeeper Stefan McCusker, it's back to the drawing board as they prepare to meet Dungannon Swifts in the fifth round of the Tennents Irish Cup on Saturday.
Sproule staying at home
Meanwhile, Clarke said he was delighted that Ivan Sproule had turned down the opportunity to again play in the Danske Bank Premiership.
The former Northern Ireland international had considered an offer from Portadown however the ex-Hibernian star has decided to stay put at his hometown club.
During the summer Sproule had been talked out of retirement by Clarke following spells at Linfield and Ballinamallard United.
And the Derg supremo is delighted the former Bristol City man has knocked back a possible move to Shamrock Park.
“We are obviously delighted that he has remained on board. He has made a big impact and it's great for us that he wants to finish the season here," said Clarke.
“He has scored goals, had a number of assists and has had a major influence on the players around him."
Sproule missed Friday evening's 5-1 defeat at Ballyclare Comrades after being sent off in the Boxing Day derby against Institute.


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