Oran Kearney’s bid to extend the only Premiership unbeaten record to 14 fixtures arrives off the back of a midweek League Cup quarter-final success by 5-1 over Dundela which left the Bannsiders boss pleased with progress but keen to keep pushing for more from his on-song squad.
“If we want to keep kicking on and keep the standards where they are at, we’ve got to keep that expectation,” said Kearney. “You’ve got to strive for it, I always have and always will, when you look at that 20-minute spell at the start of that second half we are still a mile away.
“We are still away from where I want us to be, I suppose you strive for the perfect game and perfect run.
“Those 15 or 20 minutes, if that’s on Saturday at 0-0 against Dungannon Swifts you could get hurt.
“Those are the things we want to try and nullify and guard against moving forward.”
Kris Lindsay, Kearney’s Dungannon Swifts counterpart, may be experiencing contrasting fortunes of form but is also on a similar search for improvement following October’s Halloween horror show of four successive league defeats. Of the 33 league goals conceded, only basement-based Warrenpoint Town can claim a more porous defensive tally.
“I’ve looked into the statistics and of those 33 goals conceded, 24 have come in the second half,” said Lindsay. “And eight of those within the first five minutes after the break.
“So the numbers show us we need to sort out that particular problem and fast.
“The 5-0 loss on Saturday to Cliftonville was a familiar tale to so many games this season, we played well in the first half and limited them plus caused a few problems.
“Then we conceded early in the second half and went on to ship more goals and soft goals.
“We need to get to the bottom of the situation as it is costing us and seems almost a self-fulfilling prophecy at present.
“We just need to trust in our work and stay positive that solutions can be found as it remains a good, young squad.”