Andy McGrory hoping win week can prove turning point for ‘big club’ Ballymena

Andy McGrory is banking on back-to-back wins for the first time this season to kick-start the Ballymena United campaign.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 1:00 pm

McGrory made his mark against nine-man Portadown on Saturday as Ballymena secured Premiership points just days after a Wednesday win in the League Cup.

And McGrory now wants Ballymena to draw confidence from the upturn in results alongside growing relationships following a significant player overhaul heading into the current campaign.

“I think there was a bit of relief,” said McGrory. “I don’t think it was a must-win this early in the season but it was a big, big match for both teams.

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Ballymena United's Andy McGrory. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

“You could say it was a six-pointer really and, thankfully, we’ve come out of it the right end.

“They went down to 10 men and then nine and made it very difficult for us to break them down.

“I feel like we haven’t been getting the rub of the green lately but today it happened and, hopefully, that’s the sign of things to turn for us.

“There has been a lot of changes and a few boys coming over from England.

“It’s strange because I didn’t come in that long ago (2018) but must be one of the longest-serving players.

“There’s been a big turnaround but those guys are finally starting to settle in and get to grips, so there’s only good things to come.

“I’ve been around longer than some of the boys and keep saying to them that winning becomes a habit in the same way losing can.

“If you get into the habit of wins then you start believing, even if you go a goal down, that you can get something out of a game.

“I keep drumming it into the boys in the changing room that I think, with the squad we have, we are as good as any team in this league.

“Ballymena is a big club and we should be in or around the top half and challenging for trophies.

“I hope now this week can be a bit of a turning point but we’ve got to keep on instilling that belief in each other.

“You can get a lot of goals in there from simple tap-ins so, thankfully, I was in there, one dropped, I got a bit of luck.

“I was able to get my toe on it and it just bounced over the goalkeeper so we are delighted to get out of here with three points.

“Portadown did make it difficult at times for us, they sat deep and had a lot of pace with Lee Bonis up front and Chris Lavery out wide.

“I thought our two centre-backs stood up brilliantly to that, they cleared their lines and got us back up the field.

“It was scrappy and you expect that, it’s a wee bit tense and a big game for both.

“When teams go down to 10 or nine men they sit compact with two lines so you’ve got to be brave and get on the ball.”

PORTADOWN: Barr, Hall, Ruddy, McCallum, Finnegan, McKeown (McLeod, 73), Lavery (Warde, 79), Bonis, Conaty, Kerr, Teggart.

Subs (not used): Doherty, Tipton, Anderson, Glenfield, Rutkowski.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Williamson, Redman, McKeown (McElroy, 46), Winchester, Henderson (Wilson, 46), McGrory, Bramall (Waide, 58), Loughran, Keeley, Millar, Smith.

Subs (not used): Johnston, Chapman, Barr, Beattie.

REFEREE: Evan Boyce.

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