Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena players should reflect on past successes in bid to improve form, says Jeffrey

Bar raised: David Jeffrey was impressed by his players
Bar raised: David Jeffrey was impressed by his players

By Alex Mills

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey believes his team's win over title chasing Crusaders last week can light the touch paper to help kick-start their season.

The Sky Blues travelled to Seaview on the back of a worrying 10-game winless run, but Jeffrey's braves not only picked up a vital three points to nudge them further away from the drop zone, but also registered their first League victory at the Shore Road venue since August 2013.

After pushing Linfield all this way in last season's chase for the Danske Bank Premiership crown, the Boys from the Braid now face a different type of challenge, but optimistic Jeffrey reckons last week's result will be the turning point.

United benefited from the return of strike pair Cathair Friel and Adam Lecky, along with midfield duo Ryan Harpur and James Knowles, who all had missed a large chunk of the season due to injury.

"Player unavailability has been pretty major for us this season," said Jeffrey. "We are now beginning to get players back. When that happens and we play to our best then we are capable of getting results like we did at Seaview.

"I told the players to go away and enjoy winning again. At times, football can be a very cruel game, so I asked the boys to think about what they have achieved over the past three years, since Bryan (McLoughlin) and I arrived.

"They have had three top six finishes (in the League), which was never done in the club's history and if you count the European play-off final the upcoming County Antrim Shield will be our sixth final appearance.

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"The team has finished fourth in the table and second last year . . . then add in all the European appearances. It means they have achieved an awful lot.

"We have been back (training) from the first week in June - we had only four weeks off. That level of football for part-time players is very difficult.

"So, I've told them (the players) to reflect on what they had done previously, which was phenomenal."

Jeffrey's boys will look to rack up back-to-back wins when they entertain Dungannon Swifts at the Warden Street Showgrounds today.

"Bryan and I had the privilege of working with Kris Lindsay (Dungannon Swifts boss) for a number of years at Linfield," he added. "He will have his team playing the way he played.

"They will be full of courage, full of bravery . . . they will be well organised and they will work hard. They will be coming to us well buoyed by getting three points against Warrenpoint Town.

"So, we know what to expect. It's how we handle the challenge that counts. We raised the bar at Seaview last week, that's the standards we must maintain for the rest of the campaign."

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