Doherty hails his players after battling draw

Intermediate League side Strabane Athletic earned an heroic draw against Premiership outfit Ballinamallard United.

Strabane manager Marty Doherty described his side’s performance as “unbelievable”.

“I felt we were every bit as good as them,” he said.

“From the first minute to the last I felt we were just as good. We worked really hard, but we had to because they are a Premier League team.

“We had to. You just can’t give them the right to play football and we didn’t and I think overall we were the better side today, barring the last five minutes when they put a bit of pressure on us.

“I thought we played some good football. We didn’t know what we were getting into and we grew in confidence. We didn’t think we would have as much time on the ball and when we did I think we gave them a bit of a lesson.

“If they had scored that last chance from Lecky it really wouldn’t have been the right result, but that’s football, if it goes in it goes in. We had a couple of half chances too and they may have gone in on a better day. But we are still in the cup Ballinamallard know we are a decent side.

“Many of our players have played Championship football and several of the younger boys have a chance to go on and play a higher grade of football,” added Doherty.

The best chance of the game fell to Lecky in the 83rd minute when a ball driven in from the byline to him practically on the goalline, hit off his shin, across goal and agonisingly wide.

Ballinamallard coach Brian Khan said the Ferney Park side didn’t perform until midway through the second half.

“We played them in a pre-season friendly. They gave us a game that day and we knew it would be difficult. That is just what we got,” Khan said.

“They were very confident and our form just isn’t what it should be. They gave us a really tough game for 90 minutes.”

“Ithought the first half they were probably the better side and the more likely to score from open play. And in the second half we improved. Why would it take 60 minutes and the introduction of Stuart Hutchinson and Stephen Sheridan and a wee bit more drive to make us look more hungry for the game.

“I suppose at the end of it we were a wee bit unlucky not to win the tie with the chance Richard Lecky had. It bounced off him and really could have gone anywhere

“We just have to regroup. The boys are bitterly disappointed, but we know we are not playing as well as we should be like last season and the season before in the Championship.”