Joy of six for Ballymena United to end fear of the drop after Carrick win
Carrick Rangers 0-2 Ballymena Utd
Ballymena United's resurgence under David Jeffrey continued at Taylors Avenue on Saturday, their 2-0 win making it six games unbeaten since the former Linfield boss took the reins.
It was their most impressive performance according to Jeffrey, as they battled with a side fighting for their life in the top division and a dismal playing surface.
"I've just said to the players 'that was their best victory'. It was incredibly tough," he said afterwards.
"You have a Carrick team, obviously incredibly motivated, very much wanting to make sure they could get the three points.The pitch was very difficult, very, very heavy and there was a swirling wind. So none if it was conducive to good football.
"It was about blood and guts, it was about attitude, determination and desire and I thought we had that. The first half we could have maybe gone in four goals to the good, but then Alan Blayney made some good saves and Stephen McBride cleared one off the line."
Indeed it was one of the less clear-cut chances of the game that put Ballymena ahead on the 38th minute. David Cushley swapped a trademark blast of a free-kick from 35 yards for a floated delivery which eluded all in the box and, aided by the patchy goalmouth, found its way into the net.
Opportunities were at a premium in the second half, but United sealed the three points with 10 minutes remaining when Michael Ruddy tucked home from close range after the impressive William Faulkner's initial shot was saved by Brian Neeson.
The win confirmed safety in the division for Ballymena, but heaped more pressure on Gary Haveron's side.
Haveron said afterwards: "We didn't start particularly well, they were the better side, they had a few shots from distance, nothing that really troubled us.
"We had arguably the best chance of the game but then we don't deal with a set play."