Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson has players up for the battle

.''Ballymena's  Allan Jenkins with Ballinamallard's Nigel Beacom
.''Ballymena's Allan Jenkins with Ballinamallard's Nigel Beacom

Glenn Ferguson has highlighted the fitness regime which he believes has played a vital part in his Ballymena United side’s revival.

The Sky Blues made it 20 points from a possible 27 in their last nine Danske Bank Premiership matches, thanks to David Cushley’s second half winner at the Showgrounds.

“This time last year to a certain extent it was my fault that after winning the County Antrim Shield, we took our eye off the ball and didn’t work as hard on our fitness,” said Ferguson.

“This year we maintained that every so often in training we would throw in a good, heavy, hard session to keep the fitness levels up and it has stood by the players.

“This time of year is a difficult time with heavy pitches and conditions but our fitness levels are better and even when we were under a bit of pressure, we were able to play our way out and catch them on the counter-attack and the boys were still busting a gut to get forward in the 90th minute.

“I think over the 90 minutes we deserved to win the game.

“In the first half I thought there were periods when we were excellent – we kept the ball really well and closed Ballinamallard down and limited them to very little chances.

“I thought we knocked it about at a good tempo, then it tapered off for about 10 minutes and then we picked up again.”

For Ballinamallard boss Whitey Anderson, there was plenty of time to reflect on the long journey home as the Mallards’ miserable form at the Warden Street Showgrounds continued – they have drawn one and lost four of their five visits to Ballymena in all competitions since their promotion to senior football.

“It’s certainly not a happy hunting ground for us,” mused Anderson.

“I think the goal was the only effort that Ballymena had and I’m just disappointed we didn’t take a point.

“I think the way that both teams were set up, they cancelled each other out. If I thought Ballymena had outplayed us, I would say that.

“I thought our work-rate was fantastic, our organisation and shape and everything.

“The boys have worked so hard for the past six weeks and they’re just not getting the rub of the green.

“I’ve told the players that what they have to keep doing is keep working they have been working. They’re an honest group of players, they work hard in training and we saw again they give everything they have in matches.”