Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena must rediscover killer instinct, urges boss after Glentoran earn a point

Glentoran 1-1 Ballymena Utd

By Alex Mills

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey believes his team had their 'pockets picked' at The Oval last night.

James Knowles' second half strike earned battling Glentoran a share of the spoils in a game that hardly impressed the watching Sky Sports viewers.

It looked so good for the Sky Blues when Cathair Friel shot them into an early lead from the penalty spot, but a mixture of wasteful finishing and some inspired goalkeeping from Elliott Morris deprived Jeffrey's boys of the victory they craved.

The Glens hadn't won in front of their home fans since September 19, while United's last victory away from home came four days later - at Ballinamallard United - so it was always going to be a cagey affair.

"We should have come in at half time more than one goal to the good," said Jeffrey.

"It should have been two or three at least. You can't be on top in a game for 90 minutes, Glentoran were always going to come at us in the second half.

"They started very brightly and we paid the penalty. The simple lesson to the players is you've got to capitalise when you are on top.

"If you don't, you get your pocket picked. Elliott Morris again made a few great saves. He was named man of the match, so I think that says it all.

"But it was a much improved performance from the lads following the Warrenpoint match, so I've got to be happy with that."

Although skipper Marcus Kane had an early header easily gather by Ross Glendinning, it was the Sky Blues who forged into the lead on 15 minutes.

In fact, it was Kane's error at the other end that gifted United the lead when hauled down Gary Thompson just inside the box and referee Raymond Hetherington was perfectly placed to award the penalty kick.

Friel confidently stepped up to send Morris the wrong way for his ninth goal of the season.

The Glens attempted to come back off the ropes with the tricky Tiarnan McNicholl picking out Curtis Allen, whose shot crashed off the outstretched boot of Thompson. And, from Knowles' corner kick, Robbie McDaid's header flashed wide.

United really should have nailed a second goal eight minutes from the interval. In a lightning break, involving Friel and Willie Faulkner, Johnny McMurray was sent racing clear, but Morris was out quickly to save.

Soon later, Steven McCullough's 40 yard dash opened up the home defence and, with McMurray and Conor McCloskey totally free on the right, he opted to pick out Friel, who fluffed his lines.

Then, the jet-heeled McMurray took off down the right before crossing for the unmarked McCloskey, but Morris again rescued the Glens by clawing the ball off the midfielder's toe.

Glentoran required only 10 minutes after the restart to level matters. Substitute Dylan Davidson's cross form the left was pushed out by Glendinning into the path of Knowles and he made no mistake.

However, it took another wonder save from Morris four minutes later to stop United from regaining the lead.

McMurray's searching 40 yard pass was gobbled up by Friel, whose wickedly hit low shot was superbly repelled by the veteran stopper.

The usually lethal Allen then missed a big chance to win the game for his team 20 minutes from time when he waltzed through the middle only to hoof his shot over the top.

Belfast Telegraph

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