For the opening 40-odd minutes of his managerial debut things were going just as Darren Murphy had hoped with his Dungannon Swifts side in total control.
The only down side was that the Swifts had failed to convert any of the plethora of chances they had carved out and that disappointment became a real double whammy when Eamonn Murray stole in to bag his third goal in Ballymena colours.
It was a class goal but one that must have had Murphy, deputising for the absent Dixie Robinson — who is off duty for the two weeks of his three-match touchline ban for personal reasons — wondering if this management lark is all it’s cracked up to be.
“Sitting in the dug-out beside Rodney (McAree) in the first-half I said to him it’s going to be one of those team talks again where we’ve dominated the game, it’s 0-0 at half-time and we’re going to give them a pat on the back and then all of a sudden Ballymena scored,” he smiled.
“So the team talk was a wee bit different, but we told the boys to keep on doing what they were doing.”
In the end they took one of their chances, substitute Ryan McIlmoyle coming off the bench to put the ball on a plate for Michael Ward to slot home a goal that was the very least Murphy’s mob deserved.
Ward, who endured a miserable spell at Warden Street, should have won it late on when he raced through a statuesque backline but an abysmal final touch allowed the keeper to smother the ball.
United boss Roy Walker was less than happy with his side’s anaemic display, meaning that the hoodoo against the Swifts now stretches to 12 winless games.
“Now we’re at the stage of waiting on the good players turning in good performances. Outside of Eamonn (Murray), who was the one bright spark and looked the one likely to unlock the safe, there was nothing else,” admitted Walker.
“We’re really pleased with Eamonn. He’s doing well, he’s a genuine threat. I said to the boys before the game look at teams, no matter where they play, and I’ll name you the players in the team that could win you the game.
“Barcelona have Messi and Iniesta but they have seven or eight players who do the hard work.
“Man United had Rooney and Ronaldo, and you can go through all the teams, but there are players in every team and Eamonn Murray is one for us, Cutchy (Gary McCutcheon) should be the other one.”