'Both clubs will see this as an opportunity to get a result' says Boyle ahead of huge relegation clash
As the Sports Direct Premiership season nears the halfway point, every point for the sides towards the bottom of the table becomes more crucial, and Saturday’s clash between Dungannon Swifts and Newry City already has the feel of a game which neither side can afford to lose.
Ahead of the game, Newry City boss Gary Boyle spoke to the club’s social media channel, and whilst he made no attempt to downplay the importance of the game, he believes both sides will believe that they can get a positive result.
“It’s huge, there is no getting away from the size of the occasion,” he said.“As good as the performances have been against the better sides, we ultimately can’t fall flat next week, because if we are not on it we will not get a result.
“There is pressure on us, because we haven’t been able to chip away and get points against the bigger sides, but we are happy with the level of performance that the players are delivering.
“Both clubs will probably feel that this is an opportunity to get a result. Dungannon are a good side as well; they have taken points off the big six sides, so Rodney [McAree] is probably frustrated that they haven’t been able to pick up many wins against the teams who are in around them.
“Possibly they will be thinking that they shouldn’t be where they are in the table, like ourselves, but the table doesn’t lie, and results don’t lie, so we know the importance of this game going into it.”
In recent weeks Loughgall (11-point gap), Carrick Rangers (nine-point gap) and Glenavon (six-point gap) have began to distance themselves from a bottom three which includes Ballymena United in tenth place, Newry in the relegation play-off spot, and Dungannon rock-bottom.
Despite having only one win from their opening 16 fixtures, Dungannon sit just one point behind those two sides, and with Ballymena facing a difficult away trip to Glentoran, a victory would likely propel them out of the bottom two.
For Newry, they know that defeat against Dungannon will leave them bottom of the table after 17 games, as despite putting in some good performances in recent weeks against sides like Coleraine, Larne and Cliftonville, they haven’t taken any points from their last five games.
However, one thing they do have in their favour is that they have fared well against the fellow bottom six sides – particularly away from home – as they claimed wins away to Carrick Rangers, Glenavon and Ballymena United.
When they met Dungannon back in September, they were minutes away from a home defeat, before a late Adam Carroll equaliser meant that the two sides had to settle for a share of the spoils at 2-2.
On the injury front, Ciaran O’Connor was taken off in the first half in Newry’s most recent fixture away to Cliftonville, whilst John McGovern is currently recovering from a setback he picked up several weeks ago.