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Ballymena United won’t take PSNI lightly… look at what Queen’s did to Linfield, warns David Jeffrey

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Wise head: David Jeffrey knows a Cup upset can happen at any time. Credit: INPHO/Matt Mackey

Wise head: David Jeffrey knows a Cup upset can happen at any time. Credit: INPHO/Matt Mackey

©INPHO/Matt Mackey

Wise head: David Jeffrey knows a Cup upset can happen at any time. Credit: INPHO/Matt Mackey

Any thoughts that Ballymena United might ease off in their Irish Cup second-round clash with PSNI are way off the mark according to manager David Jeffrey, who insists they won’t take the Premier Intermediate side lightly today.

On paper, the Sky Blues certainly seemed to get one of the most favourable draws of the last-16, not only being given lower-tier opposition but one who received a bye in the first round and therefore have yet to play a competitive fixture this season, while they will also have the home comforts of the Showgrounds to enjoy as well.

With seventh place in the Danske Bank Premiership still up for grabs, Jeffrey would be forgiven for having one eye elsewhere. However, the Braidmen chief is acutely aware that all bets are off when it comes to the Cup.

Queen’s University proved that in last year’s competition, stunning Jeffrey’s former side Linfield by knocking them out in the fifth round, and the boss has used that example to show his players that their place in this evening’s draw for the quarter-finals is by no means guaranteed.

“We take it a game at a time, which is desperately boring for those in the media,” he said with a wry smile, before adding more seriously: “We’re turning all our attention to PSNI.

“As I said previously, I’m delighted we got a home draw and I’m pleased we avoided the full-time sides, but that’s where any of that ends. All you have to do is look last year at Linfield getting knocked out by Queen’s.

“We go into this game knowing that PSNI will be looking to give their very best, but we want to try and keep the season going as long as we can and that’s been our message to the players.”

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Under Jeffrey, Ballymena have had a strong record in the Irish Cup, finishing runners-up last season and making it to the quarter-finals the three years prior to that, but the seven-time Cup winner with Linfield insists there’s no magic formula to knockout success.

“You just make sure your players are as ready as they can be,” he said of his Cup philosophy.

“Nobody expected us to get to the final last year, we had a horrible year with injuries and unavailability, and yet we got there and deservedly so.

“It’s an experience the players would like to repeat, but you don’t even start thinking about that at this stage. You just think about who’s ahead of you and make sure you go and do your best.”

Ballymena are currently on a three-game winning streak and, while the goals have been flowing — they’ve scored 11 in that stretch — arguably even more impressive has been their rock-solid defensive effort.

In their three victories over Portadown, Glenavon and Carrick Rangers, the Sky Blues have conceded just two goals — one of which was an unstoppable thunderbolt from Calvin Douglas — and against Carrick, goalkeeper Jordan Williamson barely had a save to make.

“Jordan’s been outstanding. Trai Hume, the skipper (Jim Ervin) and Kofi Balmer, I think they’ve been excellent. Then we’ve got Andrew McGrory and Ross Redman as a part of that as well and it goes from a three to a five,” praised Jeffrey.

“What’s really helped have been the roles played by Joshua Kelly and Leroy Millar. Tremendous energy and they work fabulously well.

“But it would be hard to pick out anybody for individual praise right now. I think, to a man, we’ve done really well.”


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