Banbridge Town are facing a defensive reshuffle for this weekend’s crunch league clash at Tobermore United.
After two defeats on the trot, new boss Ronnie Haughey knows his side must bounce to winning ways in order to keep up any sort of a promotion challenge.
They’ll have to do it without both Stephen Greene and Stephen Acheson, who are serving suspensions - Greene for his recent red card and Acheson for an accumulation of bookings.
Town are currently second in the Premier Intermediate League table, behind only Donegal Celtic, although have played as many as four matches more than the rest of the challengers.
Ahead of this Saturday’s trip to eighth placed Tobermore (kick-off 3pm), Haughey admits that more slip-ups can scarcely be afforded.
“We’ve played a few more matches so if any of those other teams can go on a run, then we’re going to be knocked down and away from the top two places,” he said.
“We know that it’s imperative that we win the five games that we have left before the split if we’re going to stay in the mix.
“Plenty of sides have strengthened in January and are going to want to push on so we have to win matches and then see where we are at the split.
“The big problem is having the two lads out. Anybody watching the team this season knows that their partnership has been a key component of the team’s success so far. It’s the platform that the results have been built on.
“We’re going to have to have a reshuffle and a revamp of the back four but we have the likes of James Wilson and Stuart Thompson who can step in there. Stuart has played in the centre already this season and James was playing in there the last time that I was in charge of the club as well so we know that they can both do it.
“On a positive note, Tuda (Murphy) has indicated that he should be fit to play, which will be a bonus for us.”
Goalkeeper Murphy sat out the Town’s last game, a 2-1 defeat at Queen’s, having been stretchered off a week previous.
“The Queen’s result was a big disappointment for the boys,” said Haughey. “At that stage, we had six games left before the split and this season we have already beaten all six of the teams we come up against.
“The lads hoped to go down to Queen’s and pick up the points but it didn’t happen. The chances weren’t put away in front of goal, which seems to have been a bit of a problem for the team this season. We have to start taking those opportunities when they come for us.”
And coming up to his first competitive game in his second spell in charge, Haughey knows there is no room for such errors.
He said: “Coleraine only managed to beat Tobermore 1-0 in the Irish Cup last Saturday so that tight result is going to have them buoyed in preparation for Saturday’s game.
“They need to pick up points and with us having the two defenders out, eveybody is going to have to redouble their efforts to get a win.
“On a positive note, we played Knockbreda in a friendly last Saturday and gave a few of the younger lads a game. Stephen Teggart was very good and they all showed real promise.”