Eyebrow-raising scorelines are nothing new at the Showgrounds but even by Ballymena United’s standards, Saturday’s 6-3 defeat by Glenavon will take some beating.
The result was met with a numbed silence by the Sky Blue faithful who are all too familiar with scores better suited to gaelic games or rugby.
Having shipped in seven and eight in successive campaigns to Cliftonville by the Braid, skipper Allan Jenkins joked at the time that the only score the opposition hadn’t managed was six. Not anymore.
It was gallows humour at its finest but behind the smiles is a worrying trend that Glenn Ferguson knows he has to tackle — and fast.
Jenkins is as honest a pro as you’d ever like to meet. Despite having had to endure humiliating defeats in his time as captain the former Greenock Morton and Gretna player always fronts up.
Once again he has had to apologise for an embarrassing reversal and begged fans to give them a chance to put things right, starting this weekend at Crusaders.
“Three goals in eight minutes and that’s the worrying thing —the capitulation that seems to happen,” he explained.
“It was something we thought we’d got out of our system but we were proved wrong.
“We need to defend better. We’re never going to do anything if we can’t defend. You can’t give six goals away at home on the opening day of the season.
“We asked the supporters to stick by us and then we go and produce that and rightly we’ll get the criticism and we have no excuse.
“We can only ask them to stick by us when we go to Seaview for a similar type of game.
“Last year we had a great start, beat Linfield 2-0 and had aspirations of doing this and doing that and the season finished the way it finished.
“We’ve got 35 games to rectify this. Saturday won’t determine our season. It’s not a great start, but it’s not the end of the world either.
“The players were despondent. We were disappointed but we’re realistic as well. That is not going to define our season. I’m loathe to say it, but I don’t think we’ll be as bad defensively again.
“We’ll go to next week. Football is high-low, high-low, and that’s just the joys of being a Ballymena supporter and player!
“We’ll be doing our utmost to get a few points on the board but if you score three goals at home it should be enough to win any game of football but it wasn’t.
“We’ve only got ourselves to blame and we’re the only one that can get us out of it.”
It won’t get any easier with a clash against Crusaders, where Jenkins will face his close pal and work colleague, Gary McCutcheon.
He joked that he’d try his best to nobble him at work during the week but given the way United have started it’s more likely they’ll shoot themselves in the foot.
Ferguson knows this has to stop or a long season is on the cards.
Last year peaked with victory in the Co. Antrim Shield final but following that win it was downhill all the way. Too many players went through the motions content that they’d ended the trophy famine at Warden Street but Ferguson is a man who has been brought up on success following success and he won’t accept lame excuses and inept performances.
“The players are good players. It’s just lapses in concentration that’s costing them, and that’s the disappointing thing,” he said.
“You have to be on your mettle for every one of them and that’s what I keep telling them, and if they’re not, they get punished the way they did. Last year we had a great opening and I think lost only two in the first 15 games but didn’t finish in the top six so this could be a kick up the backside that they need and hopefully they can take a step forward.”
Time will tell.