Lisburn Distillery bow to the inevitable
Lisburn Distillery 0 Ballymena United 0
Lisburn Distillery sacked manager Tim McCann at the end of a black night for the Whites as they were relegated after 10 seasons in the Premiership.
Their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Ballymena United, allied with Donegal Celtic's 2-1 win at home to Dungannon Swifts brought the worst possible end to what was already a disastrous season for the Ballyskeagh outfit.
And McCann, who won just three league games all season, was axed just minutes after the final whistle confirmed his team's fate.
"I've been let go by the club even though we've two games left," said McCann.
"It's sad for me to say goodbye to the club. I would have liked to have seen the season out and stay for the last two games, but it was out of my hands.
"I feel a bit gutted. It's been a tough last few weeks, but I went into the dressing room after the match and thanked the players for all that they have given me this season.
"They have tried their best, but at times that hasn't been good enough.
"I have loved it here. There are some good people trying really hard for this club and I hope that the right people can come in and take it forward."
The harsh reality for Distillery is that they didn't do enough on the pitch to retain their Premiership status.
They would have already been relegated had Donegal Celtic not been punished for playing Sean Cleary against the Whites last month – with McCann's team later awarded three points despite losing the game.
Other than that they have recorded three actual wins in 36 games and conceded 88 goals.
"Whether you are at the top or the bottom the league table doesn't lie," said McCann.
"We brought a lot of young players into the team this season and there were a lot of points that we threw away, particularly in the last five minutes of games."
McCann publicly criticised his players for their failure to show up at Mourneview Park on Saturday, when they lost 7-0 to Glenavon.
They started off in a positive fashion this time; two minutes in a long ball forward was flicked on by Aaron Boyd but it just wouldn't drop for Mikey Withers, in for Michael Halliday.
Jordan Forsythe then curled an effort wide before Boyd sent a long range effort wide – but in reality Dwayne Nelson was more than comfortable in the visitor's goal.
Ballymena then heaped pressure onto the Whites when they took the lead on nine minutes.
Ironically it was Gary Liggett, still the top scorer for the Whites this season with 12 goals despite being allowed to join Ballymena during the January transfer window, who scored.
He turned and drilled a low shot beyond the dive of keeper Billy Brennan after Shane Dolan's shot had been blocked.
With DC already 1-0 up Distillery had to respond and on 17 minutes Dwayne Nelson made a good save to keep out a scuffed shot from Mickey Withers after the keeper had pushed out Jordan Hughes corner.
The Whites weren't short of chances to keep them alive until at least the weekend. Three minutes before the break a ball over the top enabled Withers to advance but good covering play by Michael Ruddy stuffed out the opportunity.
After the break Willie Garrett fired a free-kick over the crossbar before a great chance fell for the Whites on 57 minutes. Withers laid the ball back to the edge of the box but Hughes blazed over as McCann sank to his knees on the touchline.
His team were sinking too as Ballymena had the final say in the game.
Seven minutes from time Neil Lowry slipped the ball through to Alan Davidson and he dinked the ball past Brennan and it rolled into the far corner to condemn the Whites to the drop.
Lisburn Distillery: Brennan, Smyth, Simpson, Garrett, Traynor, Forsythe, Davidson, D.McCullough (Melly 75), Hughes, Withers (Halliday 79), Boyd. Subs: Harkness, Ferguson, M.McCullough.
Ballymena United: Nelson, Munster (Maher 46), Stewart, Ruddy (Gage 80), Taylor, Cushley (Lowry, 70) Taggart, Davidson, Teggart, Liggett, Dolan. Subs: Duffin, McCabe,
Referee: Tim Marshall (Enniskillen).