Crucial top of table clash at Riverside

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INSTITUTE boss Paul Kee believes his side can’t afford to fall further behind in the Championship One leaders as high flying Ards visit the Riverside Stadium tomorrow afternoon. (Kick-off 3.00 p.m.)

The Drumahoe club is currently five points adrift of the leaders who have a game in hand and following last weekend’s dramatic defeat to third placed Dundela, Kee is expecting a positive reaction from his players.

Although still at an early stage of the season, the ‘Stute boss is determined to keep the pressure on Niall Currie’s side who remain unbeaten.

“The significance of the Ards game is that they are our competitors in terms of trying to get promotion and they are also top of the league,” said Kee.

“I also believe if you want to be serious about trying to finish in the top two then we have to win on Saturday, but Ards will be saying exactly the same thing as me.

“They will want to do what Ballinamallard United did last year and that’s put daylight between them and the rest of the league, so they have a massive incentive, but we have a massive incentive to try and stay on their heels.

“Ards are a formidable team so we have to see what way we react. We told the players prior to the Dundela game, that the best possible scenario was if we won our next two matches we would be top of the league at the half-way stage of the season.

“I can understand why supporters and committee members were disappointed after the Dundela game, which is only natural, but I’m not going to beat the players up.

“This weekend’s game against Ards will be our 12th, so we won’t panic, we’ll just look to keep it steady and keep plugging along.”

Missing Key Personnel

What was already considered a huge task, was made more difficult following Paddy McLaughlin’s sending off against Dundela last weekend for a deliberate handball offence.

The Institute skipper (pictured above) will miss tomorrow’s crucial clash through suspension as a result, as will Michael McCrudden who has accumulated five yellow cards and Kee insists the duo will prove hard to replace.

“Paddy McLaughlin is a big loss as he always gives 100 per cent,” added the ‘Stute coach. “He’s always focused and he’ll be a big miss in the changing rooms. He’s our skipper so he’ll be difficult to replace.

“McCrudden has been one of our best offensive players this season. But it opens the door for others to get a chance to show what they can do.

“Declan (McKeever) also has a bit of a knee problem, he maybe could have made the Dundela game, but we decided against it, so we need to obviously get all hands on deck in terms of selection,” concluded Kee.