LINFIELD boss David Jeffrey insisted he was ‘gutted’ following his team’s sensational County Antrim Shield final debut by Ballymena United at the Oval on Tuesday.
The big man, who was on the verge of his 31st trophy success as manager, could only look on in frustration as the Sky Blues won a nerve-jittering penalty shoot-out 4-3.
“Regardless of what has gone on in the past, I was still very hurt by the defeat,” said Jeffrey, now in his 15th season in charge.
“The bottom line is, I’m a winner. I always will be, so it was difficult to stand there and watch our opponents go up and lift the trophy.
“I was really disappointed.”
Jeffrey was also gracious in defeat – he was quick to congratulate Linfield legend Glenn Ferguson, who celebrated his first success since taking charge at the Showgrounds last season.
“I have got to say well done to Ballymena for their success. Well done to Glenn Ferguson, Norman Kelly, Lee Doherty, and Wes Lamont.
“It was unfortunate for us to lose in a penalty shoot-out, but you always need that little bit of good fortune.
“We had 110 minutes to do the business and we didn’t do it so there are no excuses. We know ourselves that we haven’t reached the level of consistency that we have done in previous seasons.”
“We are bitterly disappointed. I thought in the first half we controlled the game for the first 25 minutes then Ballymena scored a goal that was undoubtedly preventable. After that, to be fair, Ballymena were the dominant team for the remainder of the first half.
“We made a change at half time and brought Peter Thompson on for Nathan Hanley.
“Peter has been a bit out of sorts lately but we felt that he could make a difference for us. I thought the second half was mostly one-way traffic.
“We had loads of possession and we created chances but the reality is that it doesn’t matter how much possession you have unless you create chances and take them. We were again on top during extra time but it doesn’t count for anything.”