Belfast Telegraph

Matthew Tipton looking up as the Sky Blues march on

By Adrian Rutherford

Matthew Tipton may have thought his days of fighting it out at the top of the table had gone when he swapped Linfield for Ballymena United this summer. But four games into the new Irish League campaign, the Sky Blues lead the way in the Danske Bank Premiership, their growing confidence underlined by Saturday's three-goal victory over Dungannon Swifts.

And while not even the most optimistic Ballymena fan expects them to stay there for long, Tipton is not about to relinquish top spot without a fight.

"It might not be in the fans' script, but it's in my script," the striker said.

"I don't like losing, I don't like being near the bottom of the table.

"I said last week that I don't believe in the top six. Why can't Ballymena be top of the league? If we keep winning, we'll stay top.

"I'm not stupid enough to come out and say we're going to win the league, however, let's enjoy it.

"Every game that we win keeps us top of the league and you never know where it's going to take you."

Tipton hadn't scored in his first three appearances since arriving from Linfield but it took just seven minutes to open his account at Stangmore Park, nicking the ball off Terry Fitzpatrick before scoring with a close-range finish.

David Cushley made it 2-0 a minute before the break when he latched on to Allan Jenkins' pass, shook off Dermot McCaffrey and slotted home.

Tipton sealed the win early in the second period, heading home a superb cross from Neal Gawley.

Ballymena's next league test is against Glenavon on Friday night – a repeat of last season's Irish Cup final – and Tipton believes the Lurgan club's achievements last term can serve as an inspiration.

"We saw it last season with Glenavon, a team who've been struggling ever since I've been here," he added.

"Last year they hit the ground running, got up near the top of the table around October, managed to keep it going and ended up in Europe.

"For me that's what we've got to aim for.

"If you get a good start you might nick a few points off people and cling on in there."

Dungannon were unrecognisable from the side that won at Glenavon a week earlier.

Their defending was careless, with each of Ballymena's goals coming from individual errors.

They also lost full-back Cameron Grieve to a late red card and manager Darren Murphy said: "You instil into your players not to give goals away, and we gave Ballymena all three of their goals."

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