Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter is looking forward to adding Stephen O’Flynn to his frontline in the New Year after completing a deal for the Institute striker.
The Seaview boss hopes that by the time the frontman is eligible to make his debut next month that the Crues will be right back in the thick of the Danske Bank Premiership title mix after rekindling their hopes with victory at the Warden Street Showgrounds.
Josh Robinson and Gavin Whyte scored Crusaders’ goals, while the north Belfast side could also afford the luxury of seeing Diarmuid O’Carroll’s first half penalty saved by United keeper Stuart Addis.
On O’Flynn, Baxter said: “We’ll get him registered and see whether his availability is from the first or third of January.
“It’s good to get a player of that quality on board. He knows where the net is and he is a seasoned professional.
“We’re very pleased that we have come down to what has been a difficult venue for us and claimed a win.
“We had a couple of nice wee bits and pieces of play in the first half and got a goal but the game was on a knife-edge.
“Ballymena opened up a wee bit at 2-0 and we maybe got a bit more space and we changed the shape to see the game out and Richard Clarke started to get on the ball but it was never an easy game.
“This win and Portadown losing brings us into it a little bit but we’re still five points off the top and we’ve got to stay focused and keep working hard because we have a lot of big, important games coming up.
“I keep telling our players that they must look after their own house and their own performances.
“The two Bangor (cup) defeats probably highlight what you might call a mini crisis but it never really concerned me too much.
“I don’t get involved in what people are saying on social media. I just focus on what we do and how we do it.”
United boss Glenn Ferguson was frustrated that Crusaders defender Colin Coates hadn’t seen red long before his stoppage time dismissal, which prompted the pair to have words on the touchline as the Seaview skipper made his way to the tunnel.
“Colin Coates could have had four yellow cards. The first one in particular, how the referee hasn’t booked him after he cleaned Allan Jenkins out is beyond me. Then he raises his hands and pushes Matthew Tipton to the floor - to me, raising hands is another bookable offence if not worse.
“Then for some strange reason, the referee books him for his least aggressive foul in the game.
“I’m not being biased but the game could have been so much different if the referee had done what referees are supposed to do.
“To go 2-0 down is an uphill struggle against anybody never mind Crusaders. It was hard to take because I honestly do think we deserved more from the game,” added Ferguson, who was also left to rue Allan Jenkins’ first half volley coming back off the post.
“He just caught it perfectly – six inches the other way and it was in and the complexion of the game changes,” added the United boss.