Irish Premiership: 'We are punching well above our weight' - Ballymena boss Jeffrey

Ballymena players celebrate one of their four goals in last week's derby win over Coleraine
Ballymena players celebrate one of their four goals in last week's derby win over Coleraine

Ballymena manager David Jeffrey says his side are "punching well above their weight" in second place in the league as they prepare to host Glentoran.

The Sky Blues reduced their deficit to Premiership leaders Linfield to six points by beating Coleraine last week.

"We are punching so far above our weight it's untrue but football can change very quickly," said Jeffrey.

"Every team is fighting for points for one reason or another. We must be the best we can be for the town and club."

Murray in prolific form

The United boss pointed to the form of Glentoran striker Darren Murray as evidence of the stern test he expects to face from the east Belfast side on Saturday.

The former Portadown and Cliftonville striker has bagged seven goals in nine games for the Glens, who lie eighth in the table.

"Darren Murray has come in and is rejuvenated. He has re-found the natural ability he has," added Jeffrey.

Glentoran manager Gary Smyth agrees that Murray has "given his side an extra dimension" since signing for the Oval outfit from Portadown.

"He came to us as a proven goal-scorer and he has continued that on," said Smyth.

"Ideally we would like to be sitting seventh going into the split to have a chance to take part in the play-offs.

"We are capable of competing with any team in the league - we have just been shooting ourselves in the foot with bad defending."

Darren Murray
Darren Murray has been on target seven times in nine matches for Glentoran

'League is the big one' - Healy

Leaders Linfield will aim to bounce back from their dramatic County Antrim Shield final defeat by Crusaders when they entertain Institute at Windsor Park.

"The big one was always going to be the league so we'll need to regroup, refocus the players and get going again," said Blues' boss David Healy.

"The Shield would have been, as the League Cup was, a nice little added bonus along the way."

In the north Belfast derby at Seaview, third-placed Crusaders play a Cliftonville side who have kept four clean sheets in achieving four wins from five outings under new manager Paddy McLaughlin.

"Our three centre-halves, Garry Breen, Joe Gorman and Jamie Harney, have been excellent for us, although it's been very much a team effort from all the boys," explained McLaughlin.

Ards 'fighting for their lives'

Ards continue their battle to avoid automatic relegation against Warrenpoint Town, having picked up four points from Warren Feeney's first two games in charge.

"We are fighting for our lives and I believe in my players. I'm focusing on our results - everything else is out of our hands," said Feeney.

In the day's other game, Glenavon play Dungannon Swifts in a derby encounter at Mourneview Park.

"We will go there with confidence, be positive and try to get a good result. Our target is to finish seventh," said Dungannon boss Kris Lindsay.

Danske Bank Premiership - Saturday 16 March - 15:00 GMT kick-offs
ArdsvWarrenpoint Town
Ballymena UnitedvGlentoran
GlenavonvDungannon Swifts
Linfield vInstitute
Live coverage on Radio Ulster's Sportsound and text commentary on the BBC Sport website

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