INSTITUTE boss, Paul Kee believes his side have proven they are capable of mixing it with the top teams in the Irish Premiership this season following an encouraging opening to the campaign.
A controversial penalty decision denied the Drumahoe men a share of the spoils at top of the table Ballymena United on Tuesday night but Kee was pleased with his side’s performance.
And having already faced champions, Cliftonville (2-3), Linfield (1-1) and neighbours Coleraine (2-0) in the opening six games, they’ve shown they can hold their own in the top flight this season with assured performances.
Therefore, the arrival of Glenavon to the Riverside Stadium this afternoon - who are on a three match unbeaten run and currently occupy fourth place - holds no fears for Kee and his troops who are high in confidence. (Kick-off 3 p.m)
“We came to the Showgrounds (on Tuesday) high in confidence and we gave it our best effort and we’re very unfortunate to leave with nothing,” said Kee. “So if we keep up the level of performance that we demonstrated then we’ll not be far away in any game this year.
“We just need to dust ourselves down, get ready for Saturday’s home match against Glenavon and go out and try to win – that’s the only way to respond.”
‘Stute dropped into sixth place following Tuesday night’s 2-1 defeat against the ‘Braidmen’, however, the ‘Stute boss was pleased with the performance and is hoping for a similar display today in Drumahoe.
“I can’t fault the performance, the players were excellent and they were a credit to the club. We created some good chances to equalise, it was a great effort from the team, and I’m not disappointed from that point of view at all.
“Obviously the penalty didn’t help us, from where I was standing it didn’t look like a penalty, and the players are adamant that it wasn’t, so that’s disappointing. But hopefully those decisions will level themselves out throughout the season.”
“We have players catching up in terms of fitness but overall our team fitness is good and we need to keep that up because that is what’s needed in the Premiership,” he added.
This afternoon’s clash with a Glenavon side which boasts former Derry City duo, Eddie McCallion and Ciaran Martyn is ‘Stute’s fifth home game of the season so far and victory would see the Waterside men join their opponents on 11 points.
Meanwhile, former ‘Stute midfielder Darren McCauley has joined North West rivals Coleraine while defender Colm McLaughlin has signed for Balinamallard United.