Lisburn Distillery 2 Ballymena United 3
Disappointment and concern from a Lisburn Distillery perspective on Saturday as a brace from Ballymena United goal-ace Gary McCutcheon sent the Whites spiralling into this week’s promotion/relegation play-offs.
Distillery fans will be wondering how their side is in the position they find themselves in having had ample opportunities over the last five games to cement Premiership football for next season.
A continued failure to hold onto a lead has cost them and it was deja-vu here following Gary Liggett’s opener on 11 minutes.
More missed chances followed and Distillery were consigned to defeat despite a late Jordan Hughes penalty.
“We went a goal ahead, had two or three chances for a second goal but it didn’t happen,” sighed boss John Cunningham, who must now gear his men up for a home joust with Newry City tomorrow night ahead of a return meeting on Friday.
“The last three results have been disappointing,” he added. “It has been in our own hands but we just haven’t stepped up to the mark. We now have two games and it is important we get through them.”
Alan Teggart equalised on 47 minutes, McCutcheon — set for a summer switch to Crusaders — converted a controversial penalty on 68 minutes before drilling home a second to leave manager Glenn Ferguson pondering how to replace his 34 goal striker.
“Ballymena have relied on Gary, if he didn’t score we found it difficult,” admitted Ferguson. “What we have to work at now is trying to get goals from other areas.
“We have three or four strikers now that we have to work with, if they can chip in with 10 to 12 goals then it will compensate for losing Gary.
“It would have been very easy for him, after making his decision to go, to take it easy but, to be fair, he has been absolutely super.
The win saw United extend their unbeaten run to an impressive 12 games, much to Ferguson’s delight.
He added: “ I knew that, when we got in with the teams around us, we could pick up a lot of points and match them. Our objective was to remain unbeaten and, unfortunately whilst I have a lot of feelings for Distillery, I have a job to do and the job has been done.”