Lisburn Distillery 1 Ballymena Utd 4
Yet another opening day goal fest at New Grosvenor, another heavy opening defeat for the Whites — but what a start for Ballymena United and boss Roy Walker.
“We have to be really, really pleased with not just the result and indeed not even the scoreline, but by and large the way we controlled the game.” said the Sky Blues’ boss.
“I didn’t think we were in any great trouble. You don’t expect to come away from home and score four goals and win the game in the manner we did so you couldn’t have wished for a better start.”
It was clearly not the result Whites’ boss Tommy Wright had anticipated.
Afterwards he said: “We gifted them the first two goals, we didn’t do enough and made it all too easy for Ballymena and with players like McCutcheon in the team they are always going to hurt you.
“I can accept defeat as well as the next man but the manner of defeat was poor and quite a few players today let themselves down.
“We couldn’t have seen it coming with some of the performances we had (pre-season) and how they have trained this week.
“But it’s a long season, we are not going to get too downcast with our defeat.”
United had eight new faces on parade; one, Alan Teggart, opened the scoring on 10 minutes and another, Jordan Baker, scored the best goal of the game with a diving header on 64 minutes.
Whilst Gary Liggett had levelled on 34 minutes, it was the proven goal machine from Scotland, Gary McCutcheon, who netted on 38 and 77 minutes.
In the second half of last season, McCutcheon played a lone striker’s role up front, and by his own admission, it wasn’t his strength. But he sees brighter times ahead.
He said: “It made a difference for the boys to come in, we have plenty of options. Look at the bench — Davy Munster, Rory Carson, Eamonn Murray — we didn’t have those options last year.
“Aaron Black and Denver Gage aren’t even in the 16. We are just stronger all round, there are so many options now, but it is going to a squad game and we are much more well equipped than we were this time last year.”
Even a missed penalty from the otherwise top-performing James Costello, who set up three goals, and the late dismissal of Tony Kane, could not detract from the fact that United are top of the Carling Premiership.