AN OPTIMISTIC Paul Kee is refusing to press the panic button just yet despite watching his side crash to a fourth successive defeat in another frustrating night last Monday at Windsor Park.
In fact the Institute manager, who was sent to the stands in that match after Linfield’s controversial third goal, has called for a sense of realism from Irish League pundits and supporters as he prepares his side for tonight’s visit to Warrenpoint Town. (Kick-off 8 p.m.)
Tonight’s clash with one of the sides tipped to be involved in the battle against the drop this season gives ‘Stute a break from what has been a testing series of games against teams vying for the Irish Premiership title.
Not that tonight’s game in Co. Down will be regarded as an easy test by any stretch of the imagination!
But consecutive league defeats to Crusaders (3-2), Portadown (0-4) and Linfield (3-1) have brought about a feeling of gloom around Riverside Stadium of late which swiftly followed a period of heightened expectations. However, Kee is adamant that his side can bounce back with one good result.
“We haven’t pressed an panic buttons,” said the ‘Stute boss. “We’ve had realistic conversations with the players and they recognise that if they want to do well in this league they have to do better. And they’re prepared to work at it.
“Our last three league games have been against Crusaders, Portadown and Linfield,” he explained. “That’s been the top three in the league for the last couple of seasons.
“Teams will be doing well to finish above those three. And in two out of those three games we performed reasonably well, particularly in the Crusaders match where we were unlucky not to get something out of it.
“So we have to be realistic. We’re playing teams vying for the title.”
Kee will be without his skipper, Paddy McLaughlin for tonight’s trip to Warrenpoint but Mark Scoltock returns to the starting line-up for what the ‘Stute boss believes will be a real ‘battle’.
“It’s going to be a battle,” he predicted. “They’ve had a couple of good results against teams in and around them recently. They will recognise this is a good time to play us. And more importantly they will be happy to get us up there on a Friday night. They know we have to do a lot of travelling.”
Regardless of the result tonight, Kee won’t be getting carried away at this early stage in the season.
“We’ve come into the Premier League, we’re now 12 games in and while the Warrenpoint game is a significant one, win lose or draw we still have a long way to go in this league.
“We’ve already beaten Coleraine, we’ve taken points at Dungannon and we’ve beaten Ballinamallard and Warrenpoint. So these games are significant but they don’t define our season as it’s only October.”