Jeffrey still focused on avoiding drop

David Jeffrey says his focus is still on the Danske Bank Premiership relegation battle – in spite of another big step towards safety.

A point from a pulsating encounter against Cliftonville maintained Jeffrey’s unbeaten start to his return to management but the Ballymena United boss insists: “No-one should be getting carried away.

“We’re still in a relegation battle. Until it is mathematically impossible for us not to be dragged in, that’s is when I will say we’re not in a relegation battle.

“We’re doing our best to get points out of these games against top six sides but the real business starts after the split.

“A lot can change very quickly in those games - this is a good platform but that is all it is.

The Sky Blues boss was delighted with the attitude shown by his players who played more than half the game with 10 men following the first half dismissal of Gavin Taggart.

Ballymena were 2-1 ahead at that stage after goals inside the opening 25 minutes from Kyle McVey and a Tony Kane penalty before Jay Donnelly’s speculative volley somehow eluded the grasp of United keeper Alan Blayney.

The visitors laid siege to the Ballymena goal in the second half but after having a number of effort cleared off the line, they grabbed a point thanks to Daniel Hughes’ first goal for the club with eight minutes left.

“I’m ultimately disappointed not to get all three points but given the circumstances, I’m delighted that we’ve got a point.

“Willie Faulkner was ill this week and was on a course of antibiotics for conjunctivitis.

“He came and put a shift in that I felt was incredible. He epitomised the spirit in the team. They threw themselves into tackles, we cleared two or three off the line.

We have five points out of nine but after being on a losing streak of five defeats, it shows that belief and attitude are very powerful things,” added Jeffrey.

Reds boss Gerard Lyttle hopes that Hughes’ first goal will kick-start the former Warrenpoint striker’s Solitude career.

“The first night he trained with us he got an injury on his ankle and it has been stop-start for him.

“We know Daniel is a quality player - he just hasn’t had a full run at it but he produced a cool finish and that will hopefully give him a wee lift,” the manager added.