INSTITUTE boss, Paul Kee recognises that his side ‘needs a miracle’ if they are to pip Warrenpoint Town to a promotion/relegation playoff.
Simon Collins reports
The Drumahoe men welcome fourth placed, Carrick Rangers to Riverside Stadium tomorrow in the final fixture of the season (kick-off 3 p.m.) needing three points and a huge favour from North-West neighbours Limavady United.
‘Stute were firmly in the driving seat in the race for second spot prior to their crunch clash against Warrenpoint last Saturday.
However, after suffering a heart-breaking 1-2 defeat in that highly charged match - losing out to a late penalty - their season was turned on its head and they now require Warrenpoint to lose against a ‘Roesiders’ team which has gone into free-fall.
It’s a highly unlikely scenario which Kee’s troops hang their hopes on, but the Druamhoe man expects his team to perform and give themselves every chance.
“It’s firmly in Warrenpoint’s hands and I suppose the table doesn’t lie at the end of the year,” said Kee.
“If Warrenpoint end up finishing second then that’s a credit to them,” he added. “We didn’t do enough over the season.
“I told the players we didn’t do enough. I said maybe we weren’t good enough to go up after last week’s game.
“We have definitely improved from last year but. maybe we just don’t have the onus to get over the line.
“Whoever finishes in the top two, be it Ards and Warrenpoint, then they deserve that and we have work to do.
“We now need a miracle,” admitted Kee. “We needed to win or not lose against Warrenpoint and hope Limavady would do us a favour.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed. The occasion maybe got to four or five of the younger players last week but they’ll learn from this experience in the future. We just didn’t do enough on the day.
“So that’s been disappointing but we have to learn from it. We can make excuses all day but the fact of the matter is that, on the day, we just didn’t do enough to win the match and Warrenpoint did so credit to them.
“Their first corner came after 23 minutes and their first effort came around 25 minutes in.
“We had a lot of the ball in the first period of the game but didn’t do enough with it. We didn’t make the right decisions when in good positions.”
Carrick Rangers were very much in the race for that coveted second spot until last weekend but their hopes were ended once Warrenpoint netted that winning penalty at the Riverside Stadium.
Since then they’ve lost their final home game of the campaign to bottom of the table side, Bangor - a result ‘Stute will take confidence from.
There are a number of familiar faces in the current Carrick team and Kee will be hoping certain former employees don’t spoil any slim hopes of promotion.
Ex-’Stute representatives, Sean Friars, Adam Clarke, Dean Carlyle and Neil Harkin are currently plying their trade at Taylor’s Avenue and they will be eager to make an impression against their former club.
Their presence will certainly add an extra bit of sicpe to what should already be a competitive end of season encounter.
“They unfortunately decided that their futures lay elsewhere so I’m sure they will want to come back and give a good account of themselves.”
Kee has been calling on his midfield players to ease the goalscoring burden on striker, Stephen Parkhouse in recent weeks and he will be hoping to see plenty of goals tomorrow afternoon.
“We’ve scored good goals this season but haven’t scored enough and that’s been the problem.
“At key times in games we’ve been in control and we’ve got the opportunity to go into the ascendancy and don’t make the most of it.
“We came out for the second half last weekend and we went at it.
“But my concern for the team is that, other than Parkhouse, we don’t look like anyone else will score and that was evident against Warrenpoint.
“There was nobody else threatening the goalkeeper, making enough efforts and we need to kill off teams.
“We look like a good team and no disrespect to Warrenpoint I felt we looked a better team than them but they have a bit of a cutting edge and have players who can score goals like Ards,” he concluded.