Benburb brood aiming to give rivals the bird

BENBURB gaffer Frank Lovering wants his Chookey Hens players to avoid becoming Christmas turkeys and clinch three vital points when Neilston visit Tinto Park on Saturday.

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Frank Lovering reckons his Benburb team can be in the title shake-up
Frank Lovering reckons his Benburb team can be in the title shake-up

The long-serving boss insists promotion is not outwith his young side's reach even though The Bens are currently in ninth position, 15 points adrift of table-toppers Greenock.

But to back up this belief in their capabilities, Frank now wants the positive proof of a win over sixth-placed Neilston to show his Bens players are up for the challenge of climbing the table.

He said: "We have played fewer games than any other First Division team which maybe explains why we are down at the wrong end of the table.

"Indeed, winning all our games in hand would promote us to second-top spot.

"Mind you, it's a tall order in this ultra-competitive division, but certainly not an impossible one if the guys can just get a bit of belief in themselves.

"I'm not kidding anyone on with talk of going for the title because the realist in me recognises Greenock are so far out in front that every other team is already playing for second place.

"But given a cocktail of commitment, skill, hard graft and luck then I don't see why this Benburb team cannot be one of the main contenders."

The Govanites have already faced the Farmer's Boys on two occasions at Brig O'Lea this season, winning 3-1 in the Euroscot Eng League Cup and playing out a 0-0 Central First stalemate.

The former Largs and Cumnock warhorse added: "Those earlier meetings were when Robert Fox was in charge and there's no getting away from the fact Neilston's results have picked up since he left and Andy Whiteford took up the reins.

"It's a bit of a make-or-break clash for both teams so I'm expecting a closely fought game as they have a number of decent Juniors, none more so than Lenny (James Lennox) who is a great competitor.

"Not that we are short of quality in our ranks because in my opinion big Robert Tiropolous is the best goalkeeper in this First Division while the experienced heads of Andy Sinclair and Colin McInness provide great cover in front of him.

"I'd also like to think we have a couple of aces in the pack in the Jackson twins – Shane and Chris –who are both former Neilston players. Somehow I don't see them lacking motivation.

"Our home form has been a bit up and down and I'd love to see us start to make Tinto a fortress, however I'm under no illusions as to just how difficult it will be."

Meanwhile, Pollok, without a competitive fixture this weekend because they await the outcome of the New Coin Holdings Cup first round tie between Dalry Thistle and Dunipace, have arranged a Newlandsfield friendly against Morton (1pm).

It will be Lok's second game against a Senior side within five days after they lost 2-0 to Airdrie United on Tuesday night in a closed-door game at New Broomfield.

Boss John Richardson said: "It was a terrific workout for us and I felt we did really well considering Airdrie included seven first-team players in their line-up.

"Allan Moore has similarly promised to send as many as eight guys with first-team experience for the game on Saturday so I'm looking forward to seeing how we shape up.

"However, yet again the result is not as important as getting our players into a state of readiness for our next competitive outing, away to Clydebank."

Elsewhere, the word is that Super First Division title contenders Largs Thistle have received a number of enquiries about transfer-seeking stopper Robbie Cochrane, including one from his previous club Kilbirnie Ladeside.

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