Despite a 1-1 draw between Ballymena and Portadown that does little to improve either side’s mid-table Danske Bank Premiership positions, both managers could see positives in their teams’ performances.
Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson was pleased as Allan Jenkins’ header with 13 minutes to go cancelled out Sean Mackle’s effort earlier in the second half to earn his much-changed side a point.
“It was a good response from us (to the midweek League Cup defeat by Coleraine) and we would have been disappointed if we had lost because we did enough to get at least a draw,” said Ferguson.
“If you make mistakes or switch off, you get punished and that’s exactly what happened.
“From a straight ball down the middle, we switched off and you can’t give Gary Twigg that sort of space to pick out Mackle.
“The thing that pleased us was that, at 1-0 down, you can sometimes get into the mindset of just launching the ball into the box and try to pick off something which we didn’t want to do because Portadown are a bigger team than us.
“We continued to do what we wanted the players to do, dominate in midfield, get the ball into wide areas and have runners and our goal must have had at least 20 passes, from left to right and right to left and we got a good ball into the box and it was a good run by Allan Jenkins and a good finish.
“I was really, really pleased with the goal and the way we kept doing what we wanted to do. I thought we passed the ball well.
“On the balance of chances created, it was probably a fair result,” reflected Ferguson.
That view was not shared, however, by his opposite number Ronnie McFall, who said: “I thought first half we should have been two or three goals up - we had two or three gilt-edged chances that we should have put away.
“In the second half too we created chances and Ballymena had a few but we’re disappointed we didn’t get three points.
“Ballymena really struggled to deal with Twigg and Murray’s movement in the first half but unfortunately we didn’t capitalise on that.”
For McFall, his side’s performance was another indication that the Shamrock Park side have arrested their recent slump and the manager’s focus is now on rising up the table.
“The run we were on wasn’t good - it’s not an excuse but we have had players not fit all season.
“We have had injury problems since before the season even started - we could never get our strongest side out from day one.
“We’ve had to deal with all that and with the squad we have, we haven’t that much depth to change it about.
“We were looking to strengthen in the summer but there was no money - we were the only team who didn’t sign anyone then.
“Sometimes if you want to stay even at the level you were at the previous season, you’ve got to sign players to stay at that level and if you want to push on then you’ve obviously got to sign a lot better players.
“Those type of players are hard to find at the best of times but especially in January,” added McFall.