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Ballymena boss David Jeffrey proud of his high-flying Braidmen

Ballymena United 2 Carrick Rangers 0

By Billy Weir

A mischievous grin spread over David Jeffrey's chops as he admitted that for the first time he had looked at where Ballymena United sit in the Danske Bank Premiership table.

Yes, it's November, and yes, there's an awful long way to go, but the Braidmen are sitting pretty in third spot thanks to Saturday's gutsy, if far from gripping, defeat of Carrick Rangers.

Late strikes from Kyle Owens and Willie Faulkner settled affairs at Warden Street where Aaron Callaghan's men more than held their own until their late capitulation to a United team who were far from their best but, much to their manager's delight, they kept fighting and that meant he could have a glance at the league table.

"I sneaked a look at it after today just to see where we're at and I didn't think we would be here this quickly," he admitted.

"But now it's about can we maintain it? I purposely didn't want to go near our injury list but it's getting longer, so we're relying on a smaller and smaller group of players.

"It was a different game from the Linfield one, the Linfield game taught me quite a bit not so much about the players but it was good learning for me.

"They only know how to play one way and that's to go and fight and battle, so they'll never be told to sit back and play that counter-attacking game again.

"That was the team-talk today, you go and fight and battle and work and scrap, that's why we work so hard in training so you can work so hard on the pitch, and the one thing about today is they never stopped working.

"With respect, the Ballymena of yesteryear wouldn't have kept on going and won games like that, they would certainly have the highs against Linfield and whoever else, but they wouldn't have stickability like that, so well done to the players and the supporters who stuck with us."

Callaghan was down but far from disheartened by his men's display and he is relishing the task at hand.

"I'm loving the challenge, I knew it was going to be a difficult challenge and it can be difficult when you can't bring in your own players, but we'll look to redress that in the window," he said. "We've had to change the attitudes and behaviours of all those players. When I see a performance like that I get a lot of pride from it."

BALLYMENA: Glendinning, Ervin, Wallace, Owens, Flynn (E Kane, 13 mins), Gage, T Kane, Faulkner, Friel, McMurray (Millar, 76 mins), Jenkins. Unused subs: McCauley, Henderson, Loughran.

CARRICK: Neeson, Chapman (Lavery, 87 mins), McCullough, Surgenor, McNally, Wilson (Taggart, 83 mins), M Murray (Hanley, 56 mins), TJ Murray, McNicholl, Rice, Salley. Unused subs: Kelly, Morrow.

Referee: Steven Taylor (Belfast)

Man of the match: Kyle Owens

Match rating: 4/10

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