GRAEME MURTY hopes his side can stand up to the atmosphere as they take on Ballymena United in Northern Ireland this evening in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup.

The Development Head Coach says the psychological challenge of playing in front of a crowd will be a welcomed test for his players.

He said: “I’m looking forward to the atmosphere, I’m looking forward to the challenge of going over there and watching our young men deal with the atmosphere and the noise, alongside the physical and technical challenge of going and playing the game.

“I’m looking very much forward to the psychological challenge of standing up to an atmosphere.”

The Colts booked their place in the third round of the competition for the first time after wins over Berwick Rangers and Stranraer.

Murty is expecting a different challenge this time around against the Northern Irish Premiership side.

He added: “There are different challenges being posed and different styles of play that we have to go and accommodate but our players have practiced against mature athletes and they have practiced against men’s first-teams all the way through pre-season so we are really really excited for the challenge.

“We don’t see it are anything to be afraid of it is something to be relished and it is something we have been crying out for for a long time.

“We have had our scouting department on the case, we have had a few games of theirs sent over to us and we are looking now for areas to be aware of and areas to exploit. There are no secrets in football anymore I think that is something that has been made apparent from transfer windows up and down the nation.

“The footage is available, the information is available, you just have to be diligent and make sure you go and do your homework and present the information to the players in the right way.

“We have played some really good stuff [in the first two rounds] and they have represented themselves and the club extremely well but we know it is going to be a step up and we have to be ready for that.

“I am confident they can deal with the technical level and I am confident they can deal with the tactical level.

“It’s the physical and psychological side that we want challenged in and we want tested in and I think this game is going to be the perfect opportunity to go and show once again that they can stand up to these challenges and if they do that then we will be proud of them.

“I’m hoping for a massive crowd but not for anything other than the psychological stress of playing in front of one for the players. We have been crying out for it for a long time, these players are in my opinion are a really good generation of footballers.

“Not just us, other clubs as well, and one thing we struggle to replicate is an atmosphere.

“If we have thousands of people making an atmosphere instead of hundreds making an atmosphere then their growth and development from that would be fantastic.”

This evening’s game kicks off at 7.45pm at Ballymena Showgrounds. Fans can pay at the gate with adults priced at £12 and concessions £8.

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