With a wry smile, Ballinamallard United boss Whitey Anderson wondered if his team walked head-on into a brick wall in the form of Donegal Celtic at the weekend.
Having watched his players spin and tumble when they threatened the home rearguard, then succumb to a smash-and-grab Ciaran Burns match-winning goal in the 73rd minute, he reflected: “I would not use the word cynical, but Celtic did the right thing in playing to their strengths and stopped us from playing when we looked like we might do something.
“Fair play to them, they took the one chance they got and defended it manfully.
“They are fighting for survival and you have to expect that and prepare for a battle. We now have a fight on our hands for a top-six finish, which would be remarkable in our first season in the Premiership.
“We have Cliftonville, Glentoran and Linfield to come but to be honest I expected Donegal Celtic to give us that toughest test and that’s what happened.”
Celtic boss Pat McAllister, who hadn’t broken a post-match smile since a league win over Glenavon on New Year’s Day, said: “There was nothing cynical about our play. We had a game-plan but didn’t stick to it.
“I think the players were tired and sluggish but dug deep to prevent United playing through us and around us.“It was a physical game but not a dirty game.
“I told the players before they game that I felt United lacked an edge when it came to physical battles in games
“We got close to them and made them uncomfortable. I will not apologise for that, we cannot afford to let teams play around us given the position we are in.”