JIM Ervin says with a place in the final awaiting tonight’s winner quite a County Antrim Shield semi lies in prospect!
The Ballymena United captain takes his side into the tie with Linfield at the Showgrounds.
United sit second in the Premiership, just one point behind the Blues.
Up until New Year’s Day the Sky Blues lead the League and had been unbeaten in 19 matches - 17 wins and two draws.
Prior to Crusaders beating Ballymena 3-2 at Seaview on January 1 the last side to defeat United were Linfield, at Windsor Park on September 29 last year.
On that day the score was 2-1 to Linfield.
Then on December 1 Ballymena won 2-1 at home, with goals from Cathair Friel and Leroy Millar.
Tonight is their third encounter of the season.
“Linfield are always tough opponents, and yes they have hit form of late,” said United skipper Ervin.
“We expect a really tough game as always and I think it makes for a great semi final.”
The attacking full-back, who recently celebrated his 200th appearance for United, recalled Ballymena and Linfield have one win each so far this term - “That tells you how close tonight’s game should be,” he said.
“There is a final at stake so both teams will give it everything they have.”
Captain Ervin said a few seasons ago United beat Linfield in the Shield final at Windsor Park -
“And we hold really good memories of that night. But this is a different squad of players we have and we are hungry for silverware,” he said.
Ervin dismissed talk that it is just the Shield, pointing out there is a final at stake - “So regardless of what the competition is we want to be paying in these sorts of games,” he said.
“ Both squads have changed a lot from the final we played them a few years back. We have a lot of new players who want to know what it feels like to win things so we will give it everything we have in every game that we play in.”