LINFIELD manager David Jeffrey was forced to issue a public apology to the club’s fans following Saturday’s inspid Danske Bank Premiership performance.
A brace from Ballymena United youngster Jamie Davidson handed the Sky Blues three deserved points at the Showgrounds.
It consigned the Irish League champions to a 2-0 defeat which leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table after the opening day.
Jeffrey was scathing in his post-mortem of the game.
The last time he was forced into a public outburst was following an embarrassing 2-0 defeat to Donegal Celtic on New Year’s Eve 2010.
“To put it bluntly, my players were taught a simple lesson on how to win a game of football.
“It doesn’t matter how much talent or ability you have, or what you have achieved previously. You have to outwork and outfight your opponents before you can outplay them, and today Ballymena did that to us,” Jeffrey conceded.
“Congratulations must go to Ballymena. Their workrate was exceptional and they deserved their win.
“We conceded two goals and we could have conceded more.
“The last time I saw a performance in that category was when we played Donegal Celtic two years ago.
“I remember at the time being very clear and not saying too much. I saw a team outworked and outfought that day, and it happened today.
“I am having to apologise to our supporters on the first day of the season. They have come here to cheer on the team and we have let them down.
“At the end I was looking around and I saw a team that was outplayed.”
The Glenn Ferguson factor was evident at the Showgrounds on Saturday as Ballymena’s guile and endeavour was rewarded with two goals.
The opener arrived in the last minute of the first half, Davidson racing onto David Cushley’s incisive through ball before the winger slotted past the stranded Alan Blayney.
A similar scenario unfolded in the 76th minute when Ballymena doubled their lead, with Davidson allowed a free run on goal and coolly side-footing his shot past the despairing Linfield goalkeeper.
It could have been more for the home side, with Cushley rattling the crossbar in the 72nd minute.
Linfield failed to muster much of a response as they collapsed to defeat.
“If I was a player sitting in the changing room. If I played and performed like that, I would be itching for the next training session and match,” Jeffrey said.
“I would want to get out there again and pout things right.
“If you count the number of league medals in our changing room, it is phenomenal. But you have to go into battle each and every game.
“This hasn’t happened very often during my reign, but when it does we have to admit it.
“What is totally unacceptable is when you put a blue Linfield jersey on and you don’t fight or work hard.
“Even if you are not playing well you have to match your opponent.
“The bottom line is when you take to the field, you have to win your individual battle.
“We didn’t win one today.”
For Ballymena boss Ferguson it was the perfect start to their season.
“When the fixtures came out, we said this would give us a gauge as to how far we have come,” he said.
“But it is only a win. We have beaten the champions on the first day of the season which should give us confidence.
“When people saw the fixtures they would have seen Linfield on the opening day and predicted no points.
“Well, we are three points up already.”