United knocked out of Challenge Cup at Oxford United

editorial image

Ballymoney United will be hoping to re-group ahead of tonight’s away tie with Dungiven in the League.

Peter Cairns’ side were knocked out of the Intermediate Challenge Cup on Saturday by a strong Oxford United. The Londonderry men ran out 5-3 winners in the semi final. The focus now for the local lads is the League.

Ballymoney are currently level on points with leaders Newbuildings with two games in hand, but boss Cairns says there’s still plenty to play for.

“There is still a lot of football still to be played. We have Dungiven on Tuesday then Trojans away on Saturday - two very tough away games. If we got four points out of it I wouldn’t be too disappointed, “ he said.

He put Saturday’s defeat in the Cup down to a poor first half. Ballymoney started well and were 2-0 up, but Cairns said he side ‘fell apart’ and let Oxford back into the tie in the final minutes of the first half.

“We played much better in the second half, Oxford are a good side, it would have been nice to get through to the final, but our focus now has to be on the League.”

Cairns is expecting a tough test against Dungiven tonight (Tuesday): “We have a tight schedule now for the next few weeks. Mid week games are tough, especially if you are travelling as far as Strabane. It’s a fair trek, and even if players leave work at 5, it leaves us very little time to get a warm up in before the kick off. I just hope the league look at this.”

Looking ahead to next season, Cairns pointed out that his goal was to return to the Championship: “That was the original plan. At the start of the season I didn’t think we would be even thinking about this, but we have turned things around, so we will see what happens.”