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You need the spine of your team to be strong - Glenn Ferguson

By Billy Weir

A lack of backbone when it comes to playing the so-called lesser lights of the Danske Bank Premiership is a charge not likely to be levelled at Glenn Ferguson's remoulded Ballymena United side this season.

The Sky Blues' boss didn't make many changes in the close season but two of his main ones showed on Saturday that United may be made of sterner stuff this time around.

Kyle McVey and Matthew Tipton made their league bows in the 2-0 win over Warrenpoint Town and with goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson returning between the posts, having missed the entire second half of last season, there was a solidity that augurs well for the future.

"When you're trying to build a team you need leaders and you need the spine of your team to be strong," said Ferguson. "Matthew Tipton is a leader, he's experienced, he talks and is good on the ball and can hold it up.

"You look at Allan Jenkins, who is the captain, he worked hard and closed things down and now we've got Johnny Taylor and Kyle McVey there who look accomplished centre-halves and I said to Dwayne after it that was as a comfortable and confident as he has looked in over a year.

"So the spine of the team is good but then everybody else gels around them and if you get the right mix you'll win matches."

Add in strikes of the quality that David Cushley and Neal Gawley provided in the opening day win and there is a genuine belief that the Braidmen can finally reach the promised land of the top six.

For Warrenpoint there will be better days. They never recovered from a dreadful 20-minute spell in the opening period where they were ripped apart and somehow escaped with just the one goal conceded.

They did improve, especially with three substitutions in the second-half that saw them revert to the side that passed and moved so well in their first season at this level, so Gray was down but not in despair.

"There are still plusses in that we created three good opportunities that we didn't take.

"In saying that, in the second-half I don't remember Johnny Parr having to make a safe, but I suppose their game plan worked, they were 2-0 up and sat back and soaked up the rest. It's not all negative."

Ballymena United: Nelson, McCullagh, McBride, Davidson (Taggart 72), Taylor, McVey, Gawley (Boyce 72), Teggart (Surgenor 80), Tipton, Jenkins, Cushley. Subs not used: Munster, Ruddy.

Warrenpoint Town: Parr, King, Gargan, Boyle, McVeigh (Cowan 72), Bagnall, McDonnell (Devlin 72), Moan, Hughes, Havern (Smith 72), McCabe. Subs not used: Mooney, Grant.

Referee: Colin Burns (Newtownabbey).

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