David Jeffrey refuses to get carried away after Ballymena United climb to third
Ards 2 Ballymena United 4
Ballymena United may have sneaked into third place after Saturday's impressive 4-2 win over Ards, but manager David Jeffrey's aim remains the same.
The Sky Blues will climb to second if they defeat Linfield at The Showgrounds tomorrow, yet their experienced gaffer isn't chasing the Gibson Cup dream.
Instead, Jeffrey is fully focused on securing United's first top six finish since the Premiership's two-way split was introduced in 2008.
"People seemed to have raised their expectations of Ballymena because, after the 5-0 defeat to Glenavon and Ards loss in the Shield, some people said we had suffered a dip in form. That's quite nice, in a way, but people need catch themselves on if they think two defeats is a dip in form," he said.
"Our target is a top six spot, and that has always been in the case. That won't change regardless of what happens on Tuesday night. This club wants to be in the European play-off come the end of the season - that's our aim."
On the day, a Cathair Friel hat-trick secured a relatively comfortable win for United at the Bangor Fuels Arena.
Fra Brennan gifted Ballymena a penalty in the 35th minute when he fouled Cathair Friel . Tony Kane scored his ninth spot kick of the season to make it 1-0.
It was 2-0 in the 39th minute. McMurray sped down the right flank before cutting the ball across goal for Friel to turn it high into the Ards net.
Ards pulled a goal back when winger David McAllister cut across the goal before prodding home.
Ballymena restored their two-goal lead in the 51st minute. A Johnny Taylor error allowed Friel to head the ball over the stranded Hogg.
Friel had his hat-trick in the 84th minute. The former Limavady United man evaded the Ards off-side trap before lofting the ball over Hogg. Ards winger Craig McMillen pulled another goal back in the 92nd minute.
After the game, Ards boss Niall Currie outlined his belief that individual errors cost his side a cut of the points.
He said, "We gave a very good Ballymena side a decent game today. I don't think it was a 4-2 game, however, individual errors at key times cost us dearly."
ARDS: Hogg, Brennan (Cherry, 46 mins), Taylor, Friars, Ruddy, Tommons (Liggett, 70 mins), McCullough, McMillen, McKinney, McAllister (McComb, 65 mins), Douglas. Unused subs: Hall, McMullan.
BALLYMENA: Glendinning, Ervin, Owens, Flynn, Gage, Wallace; T Kane, Jenkins, Faulkner, McMurray, Friel. Unused subs: Henderson, E Kane, Loughran, McAuley, McCracken,
Referee: Raymond Hetheringtom
Man of the match: Cathair Friel
Match rating: 7/10