Ballymena United boss Jim Ervin views Premiership draw with Newry City as 'two points dropped'
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Substitute Noah Stewart put Ballymena in front, tapping Sean Brown’s pinpoint pass home from close range barely 60 seconds after coming off the bench, but the hosts responded almost immediately as Adam Salley headed in his seventh league goal of the season.
Victory for the Sky Blues, who sit 11th, would have opened up a nine-point advantage on Newry as the pair battle it out for Premiership survival.
Barry Gray’s side have 11 games remaining to preserve their top-flight status, starting with Tuesday’s trip to Loughgall, before four of their final five matches prior to the split come against teams currently occupying top-six positions.
With Newry not winning a home league match since November 2022, Ervin’s Ballymena would have viewed the fixture as an opportunity to create breathing space, but instead the picture remained unchanged – much to the former Linfield defender’s frustration.
"It's very frustrating,” Ervin reflected on the club’s media channel. “I thought we bossed the game and should have tested the keeper a lot more...we should have been two or three up.
"When you go 1-0 up you're looking to see the game out and we've conceded so quickly after taking the lead, which is disappointing because the next five minutes are really crucial in keeping it tight.
"We dealt with the first corner reasonably well and then the second one is a free header...at this level you can't give anyone a free header in the box because they come back and punish you.
"The effort and quality of the play was there to be seen. I thought we controlled the game but it's another night where we come away disappointed. I really look at it as two points dropped, particularly with the way we played."