Ballymena win closes gap on derby rivals Coleraine

Ballymena goalkeeper, Tim Allen, keeps things cool after Johnny Lafferty wasted  a goalscoring opportunity
Ballymena goalkeeper, Tim Allen, keeps things cool after Johnny Lafferty wasted a goalscoring opportunity

It was Ballymena’s day as they picked up three points at Ferney Park closing the gap between them and local rivals Coleraine.

Balymena manager Glen Ferguson said he needed to get a reaction from some of the players who hadn’t been playing recently.

“It paid off. Some players came in today and did themselves no harm. It was a bit of a wake up call for some players. It was a good all round performance. We started brightly and got in their faces. I stressed to get the ball down and play and to be fair they tried to do that as much as possible.

“Ballinamallard were a big threat from set pieces and Martin scored from one of those. All round we’re just delighted how we went about it today.

“I told the players beforehand to try to get closer to Coleraine and if we finished above them it would give us a bit of an edge. It’s hard for teams down there to win three or four out of five when they haven’t done it all season to catch us.

“There are six games left and I want to go out and win them all. If we do it it will put us over the 50 point markagain and if I can get the best out of the players over those games then so be it, but this was a really difficult game for us.”

They were set on their way by Mark Surgenor after just four minutes. Surgenor collected a ball from the left flank and unleashed an unstoppable effort from 25 yards which had keeper Stefan McCusker beaten and went in off the underside of the Ballinamallard crossbar.

Minutes before that though, Ballinamallard should have taken the lead when Johnny Lafferty made a brilliant jinking run to the edge of the penalty area, but his weak shot didn’t trouble keeper Tim Allen.

Ballinamallard missed a host of chances in the first half with Lafferty slipping at the vital moment as he was to unleash another shot at the back post.

Jason McCartney was put through for another good opportunity, but his weak effort with his right foot wasn’t strong enough to beat the keeper.Campbell too had a good opportunity when McKenna laid a good ball off for him, but again his was a poor finish.

The Ferney Park side levelled after 40 minutes when the ball broke to Liam Martin in the six yard box following a corner. The nippy striker turned beautifully to shoot home past keeper Tim Allen.

But It was Ballymena who controlled the second half with Neal Gawley curling a beautiful free kick just inside the near post after 69 minutes.

With Ballinamallard on the attack for the leveller they were caught in the 91st minutes.

Good pressing by the visitors saw the ballb reak for substitute Matthew Tipton who drew keeper McCusker before chipping home into an emtpy net.

Whitey Anderson, Ballinamallard manager said he couldn’t fault his player for commitment.

“We had plenty of chances, but I told the players sometimes you have to use your head more. We’re in a situation now that we are definitely in a dog fight now with Warrenpoint closing the gap,” he said.

He felt his side showed a lot of character coming back into the game after going a goal down early on. When we conceded a second we were chasing the game and they just caught us with the last kick of the game.

“We had as many opportunities as they had, but as I said to the players sometimes you have to use your head.”