NEWINGTON manager Paul Hamilton expressed his delight at his side’s early season form, but insists the Swans won’t be getting carried away by their recent positive results.

The North Belfast side, who secured a historic league and cup double last year to seal a first ever promotion to the Championship, have made a seamless transition to life in the second tier so far.

They defeated Dergview 4-1 with a blistering performance on the opening day before securing a hard-earned point at Ballinamallard at the weekend after a 1-1 draw, while on Tuesday evening they came away with a 3-3 draw with Institute.

Hamilton was full of praise for his players’ application in the first two games, but given the unpredictable nature of the Championship, is keen to temper expectations at Solitude.

“We’ve done well so far, we’re happy enough with the start we have made, we are not getting above ourselves by any stretch of the imagination, but we’ve started off okay,” he said.

“We had a good win at home to Dergview and I thought we were exceptional the way we started and finished that game which is pleasing. We did a good preseason to build up for that match and the boys went out and executed our game plan perfectly.

“We then had a tough game against Ballinamallard on Saturday, which was a challenge with the travelling, but we were glad to come back up the road with a point. We were disappointed not to get all three as we don’t like drawing matches, we like to win, but that was just the way the match panned out.

“We have massive games coming up, away to Knockbreda at the weekend, which is another challenge, but every match we play now is like a cup final.

“We are rated as underdogs being the new boys in the league, but we are relishing every game we play.”

Hamilton has opted for experience in the transfer market so far, with three of their four new recruits signing from other Championship clubs.

Padraig Slane arrived from Queen’s whilst Newington pulled off a huge coup by bringing in Fra Brennan. The former Cliftonville defender is fresh from winning the Championship title with Newry City last season.

They have also added defender Joe Reid from Lisburn Distillery and Johnny Courtney from Ballinamallard to further bolster their ranks, and the manager is pleased with those he has managed to lure to the club.

“The players that we have brought in were handpicked to fit in to the way we play and our mentality, we have had a couple of great signings,” he added.

“There are no egos, we just have players willing to play for the shirt. Padraig is a smashing player, who is well established in the Championship, whilst Joe is a good strong defender, who I have coached before.

“I know his strengths and weaknesses and his strengths overrule his weaknesses.”

Despite ringing endorsements of the new arrivals, all four have yet to start a league game, with Hamilton rewarding those players who brought Newington up last year.
He has laid down the gauntlet for the quartet to keep pushing to break into the starting 11.

“It’s a challenge for those boys to get into our team and they fully accept that,” he outlined.

“They are well aware of what they need to do to squeeze into the starting lineup, because it is the same team that won us the double last year that has started our first two games.”

Newington’s successful season last year and good start to life in the Championship has only helped to extend the feel-good factor around the club, according to Hamilton.

“It was a great achievement last year doing the double and stepping into the Championship for the first time in the club’s history, it’s been great for the community,” he noted.

“The North Belfast area is buzzing at the minute because we are competing at this level of football.”

Fans of the Swans will be delighted to know that the big games keep on coming, as Newington host Premiership side Ballymena in the first round of the County Antrim Shield next month.

Their manager is certainly relishing what is set to be another great occasion for the club.

“It is games like that which are the reason you play football for,” he opined.

“Ballymena are a massive team, and you want to compete with them. We went down to the Showgrounds last year and they beat us 3-1 but we ran them really close, and Jeffrey wasn’t happy, but we frustrate teams the way we play.

“Our focus at the minute however is on our next league game, we can’t think about the Ballymena game until we are preparing for it.”

Whilst survival will be the main aim for Newington in their maiden campaign in the second tier, Hamilton is optimistic that the club’s insular focus will take them a long way this year.

“It will be a long season and there is a lot of football to be played,” he agreed.

“If you do string a few results together it puts you in a good place in this division. If we can pick up another few points in the next few games, we will be happy enough.

“We were coming into the unknown in the Championship and we are all learning as we go at this level, which is a bit more professional.

“Our mentality is that we don’t worry about other teams, we just worry about ourselves. We know on any given day and beat anyone so we focus on us.”