Ferguson hails Tipton influence in dramatic derby day victory

Coleraine's Gary Browne celebrates with Ian Parkwill
Coleraine's Gary Browne celebrates with Ian Parkwill

The contrasting emotions of both managers were understandable as Ballymena United claimed victory in an epic Boxing Day encounter at the Warden Street Showgrounds.

Matthew Tipton scored twice as the Sky Blues won the festive fixture for the second year in succession in a pulsating match.

Gary Browne’s early opener for the Bannsiders was cancelled out after Darren Boyce scored for Ballymena but Ian Parkhill’s excellent header put Coleraine in front at the break.

Tipton turned home a Boyce cross to level the scores before a dreadful blunder from Coleraine keeper Michael Doherty gifted Allan Jenkins a goal to put the home side in front for the first time.

Still Coleraine refused to give in as David Ogilby volleyed the visitors level from a corner but Tipton headed the winner with six minutes left.

“I think after that, Oran (Kearney) and myself might have to think about getting a defensive coach!” smiled United boss Glenn Ferguson.

“We spoke about stopping crosses into the box but for some reason they don’t want to do it and we conceded two more goals in that way.

“It’s Boxing Day, at your home ground, against your big rivals, in front of a good crowd – the most important thing is three points and thankfully we were able to get them – even if we did it the hard way!

“At 3-2 we thought we had another goal from Mark McCullagh’s header which some people thought had crossed the line. Within 30 seconds, they almost scored, won a corner and from that scored to make it 3-3.

“Credit to the boys who have come from behind again to win the game – that’s the third game in a row that has happened.

“I’m delighted for Matthew Tipton, not just for getting the winner but his all-round play, his work rate and everything he did was exceptional. It was everything you need from a striker on a big occasion,” added Ferguson.

His opposite number Oran Kearney was left to rue his side’s kamikaze defending.

“When you come away from home and score three goals in a Boxing Day ‘derby’ you expect to get something out of the game.

“I know people laud the fact that we have a young side and we have this and that, but at the same stretch I’m under no illusions that it’s senior football and to concede three goals from corners and the fourth goal in the manner that we did is just not acceptable.

“If you’re not prepared to do simple jobs at set pieces, not once, not twice, but three times, you get what you deserve. For that to happen so many times was a wee bit crazy.

“I felt from open play that we looked solid enough and compact but from set pieces, it just fell apart.

“Time (in training) is sparse enough with the players without us having to tell players ‘this is how you stand goal-side’ or ‘this is how you win your battle’.

“Three goals – two of them very good ones – should be enough to win a ‘derby’ but sadly that’s not the case,” added Kearney.

Ballymena United: Addis, T Kane, McCullagh, Munster, McBride, Gawley (sub McCaul 86), Surgenor, Jenkins, Teggart (sub Ruddy 89), Boyce (sub E Kane 90+3), Tipton. Subs (not used): Ferguson, Graham.

Coleraine: Doherty, Kane, Douglas, Ogilby, Mullan, McGinty (sub Miskimmin 75), Canning, McCafferty (sub Hegarty 64), McNeill, Browne (sub Lyons 86), Parkhill. Subs (not used): Watt, Moore.

Referee: Colin Burns (Newtownabbey).