NEIL Carlin wants to create a winning mentality at Strabane Athletic.
On Saturday Athletic made it five runs on the trot with a hard fought derby victory over Gary Simpson’s Ardstraw at Melvin Park.
Second half goals by Aaron Porter, Conor Carlin and David Taylor means that Strabane are now joint second with their opponents although the chances of either winning a first league title remain extremely slim given leaders Portstewart have at least three games in hand.
Carlin said the battle was now on for second place.
“Saturday was all about continuing the winning habit,” said the Athletic boss.
“The first goal was always going to be crucial on Saturday and thankfully that’s how it worked out for us.”
If anything, it was Ardstraw who shaded the verdict in the first half with striker Robbie Godfrey threatening on a number of occasions.
But midway through the second period, the hosts crucially drew first blood.
A long searching pass by midfielder Rian McKelvey turned the visiting defence and Porter stole a yard on both Nigel Boyd and Lee Warnock to steer the ball past Andrew Gailey.
Shortly afterwards it was 2-0. Oran McShane, who has been excelling in midfield, and Taylor combined effectively on right, Porter flicked the ball around the corner and Carlin swooped to apply the finish.
That double salvo left the visitors chasing the game and five minutes from time they were caught again on the counter attack. Porter turned inside to carve apart the Ardstraw rearguard and Taylor galloped clear to finish with aplomb.
Taylor’s accomplished finish provided the knockout blow and leaves the visitors with a real fight on their hands to finish runners-up.
Following Saturday’s defeat, Vaughan’s Holm assistant Mark McHale insisted his charges remained well up for that particular fight.
“Of course we are disappointed with today’s result and yeah getting the first goal was probably going to make the difference,” he said.
“On paper it looks like a fairly comfortable win for our opponents but that certainly wasn’t the case.”