Belfast Telegraph

Strikers bring smile to face of Glenn Ferguson

By Stuart McKinley

Glenn Ferguson knows a thing or two about scoring goals. Only Jimmy Jones has scored more in Irish League history.

Even the Ballymena United manager is excited about the firepower in his table-topping team – and it's not just the strikers who are putting a smile on his face.

Ferguson collected the Manger of the Month award after his team's impressive run through August, and September got off to a wonderful start when the Sky Blues beat Institute on Tuesday night to overtake champions Cliftonville at the summit.

"We'll enjoy it while we can," is Ferguson's outlook on things at present.

He isn't putting pressure on his players to see the season out in top spot and take the title, although he did say "it would be nice to".

So far only Crusaders have scored more goals – helped by hitting Coleraine for six in midweek – and while his strikers are firing Ferguson will enjoy watching the work he has done in almost three years at the Showgrounds bearing fruit.

"I wasn't aware until someone told me that our first eight goals of the season were scored by seven different players," said Ferguson, who takes his team to Ballinamallard United today.

"Matthew Tipton, David Cushley and Neal Gawley are players we expect to score goals – and they have done – and David Munster, Johnny Taylor and Kyle McVey have all scored too.

"We brought Darren Boyce in to give us goals, but he can't get into the team because other boys are scoring. Darren scored when he came on against Portadown, so it's good that we have that."

Ballymena's rise to the top hasn't been an overnight success.

The squad has been carefully assembled over five transfer windows and Ferguson's key signings are proving there is life after the from the so-called bigger Belfast clubs

"Over the last 18 months we have brought in Stephen McBride, Johnny Taylor, Jim Ervin and Matthew Tipton, all top players who have played for top clubs, and the rest of the players have responded to them," said Ferguson.

"They have brought a professionalism and the other boys now realise that there could be something at the end if they do well.

"We have tried to bring in two or three players in every window and we have got stronger."

Glenavon, who sit fourth in the table, have continued their signing spree, bringing in former Celtic trainee Paddy McNally, who was on loan to Cliftonville last season. He won't, however, be in the squad to face Institute today.

Portadown have released Emmet Friars from his contract and, having done so before the transfer window closed, he can now sign for another club as a free agent.

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