Barry Gray says Cliftonville are in and around where they want to be in the Danske Bank Premiership and have played their way into a position that makes tomorrow’s clash with Ballymena United such a vital encounter.
The Reds travel to The Showgrounds just a point behind their third-placed hosts thanks in no small part to a winning sequence that has yielded maximum points from their last four outings, however Gray is well aware that United – who are on an 11-match unbeaten streak – are riding high on confidence themselves.
“The win over Newry on Monday was big for us because it came at the end of a weekend where a few of the top teams dropped points,” he explains.
“It was an opportunity for us to claw things back a little bit and we’re very pleased that we did that. Things are pretty tight in the top half of the table but we’re up where we want to be at the minute and we want to build on what we’ve done over the last few weeks.
“Ballymena will give us a very difficult game because they’re right up there themselves and they don’t lose too many, but we’ve hit a bit of a stride that we want to maintain and push on with.
“I’ve spoken recently about whether or not we’re turning a corner. We had a couple of wins that suggested we were on the way and, to my mind, the Newry game was a big test of that. Earlier in the season, we’d have gone backwards and slipped further away from where we want to be, but the performance and the way we went about things on Monday showed how much things have improved from a few months ago and we have now put ourselves in a position where we’re in the mix.”
Supporters are advised that the Shuttle Bus Service from Ballymena Train Station to The Showgrounds will not be running for this fixture.