Mitchell ready for relegation fight

The scene at Lakeview Park on Saturday morning, with play against Ards abandoned following a pitch inspection.
The scene at Lakeview Park on Saturday morning, with play against Ards abandoned following a pitch inspection.

Confidence is key - that’s the message from recently-appointed Noel Mitchell as he prepares to halt the club’s slump in form.

A run of nine NIFL Championship One league fixtures without success has left Loughgall just four points clear of bottom spot.

Tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) focus will switch to the Intermediate Cup as Mitchell prepares his side for Linfield Swifts at Lakeview Park - however, he remains clear that league survival remains the priority.

“Our number one goal is to avoid relegation,” said Mitchell. “I have come in at the start of the year to try and lift the confidence of the players as that is going to be vital.

“They have responded well in training and the performance against Institute was positive in places despite the final scoreline.

“We have lost some players but managed to make other signings and a squad familiar with this level can only help our efforts.

“I know some of the signings thanks to my work with the IFA Excellence programme but getting someone like Wesley Boyle back on board has been massive.

“He has top-flight experience but I feel there is also plenty of quality across the group.

“I would have seen a fair bit of the players before coming in as manager and know there is quality on the books.

“Signing a few players used to how I work can also help us hit the ground running.”

Mitchell is keen to build up momentum across the league but accepts disruptions caused by cup commitments as a natural part of Championship football.

“Stephen Uprichard is on board as my assistant and we have worked together for a long time,” said Mitchell. “Steven Hawe is helping out as a coach and brings so much professionalism and quality to the group thanks to his career here and in England.

“It is great to see the players getting the smiles back and they have been working hard.

“We want to string together some good league results but, at this early stage, every match gives us an opportunity to work towards that momentum.

“We have players unavailable for cups but it allows me a chance to use the full squad and I have no concerns over the quality of players at this club.”

Kick-off will be 1.30.