Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena players won't need lifted for top two clash against Linfield, says Ervin

 

Proud man: Jim Ervin thanked fans and teammates for effort
Proud man: Jim Ervin thanked fans and teammates for effort

By Steven Beacom

Ballymena United captain Jim Ervin believes his team-mates should take heart from their battling performance in Saturday's Bet McLean League Cup final despite Linfield lifting the trophy.

Sky Blues fans roared on their side as they created a host of openings, hit the post, saw efforts saved by Gareth Deane, near misses and looked on in amazement as the normally lethal Cathair Friel skied over from a couple of yards.

"Coming to Windsor Park to put in the performance we did speaks volumes for our squad," said Ervin.

"I'm extremely proud of everyone. Not just the playing staff, but the coaching staff and the boys that were left out because it was a team effort from the first game in the League Cup.

"It was disappointing to lose but I thought we were superb especially in the second half.

"Also our fans were fantastic to a man, woman and child. Very rarely do you see the amount of people still in the ground at the final whistle for the team that has lost the game but our supporters stayed which I think showed their appreciation of the team."

Ballymena are back at Linfield in the league again next Saturday hoping to close the gap at the top to three points.

Asked if he would have to lift those around him, Ervin, as competitive as they come, said: "I don't think I will need to lift them. Last year when we lost the League Cup final to Dungannon there was devastation and not because we lost, it was the manner in which we lost.

"I think it tells you the story this time when you have a number of opposition players and backroom staff come to you after the game and say if it was a boxing match it would have been stopped 15 minutes before the end.

"They weren't just saying that because they had won the game. They are honest people so we have to take a lot from that."

Manager David Jeffrey said: "This is part of the team's education.

"Every experience that the players have you hope they mentally and emotionally improve because tactically, technically and physically they are already very good."

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