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Ballymena Utd 2-1 Crusaders: We waited a long time to gain revenge, says Kyle Owens


Drama: Kyle Owens leads the celebrations after Colin Coates’ own goal earned Ballymena’s win

Drama: Kyle Owens leads the celebrations after Colin Coates’ own goal earned Ballymena’s win

Drama: Kyle Owens leads the celebrations after Colin Coates’ own goal earned Ballymena’s win

They've beaten Linfield and Crusaders in the past week but Kyle Owens says there is even more to come from high-flying Ballymena United.

The Sky Blues inflicted a first league defeat of the season on the Crues on Saturday, doing it the hard way coming from behind and then playing the last quarter of an hour with 10 men following the dismissal of goalkeeper Ross Glendinning.

But after fending off a barrage from the champions, a rare sortie upfield offered some respite and, spurred on by manager David Jeffrey, Owens ambled forward where he met Tony Kane's free-kick with a resounding thud of his forehead and, despite the efforts of Colin Coates, the ball found its way into the net.

It extended United's unbeaten run to 10 games, a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the Braidmen who were knocked for six by the same opponents on the opening day of the season.

Owens admitted that defeat spurred him and team-mates on and revenge was certainly sweet.

"It was in our minds because we owed them one and we needed to go out and put that right because we've been doing so well," he explained.

"People expect us to get three points now, no matter who we're up against, and the 6-0 was always in our heads."

The Crues took the lead in the 26th minute when mesmeric play on the right by David Cushley saw the former United favourite deliver a great ball into the area and as Paul Heatley stuck out a toe the ball was touched into his own net by Jim Ervin.

Back in August the side may have capitulated but they were level within seven minutes, the tireless Cathair Friel brought down inside the box by Michael Gault who only survived a dismissal because of the new double jeopardy ruling and Kane slotted home his eighth penalty of the season.

The Crues bossed proceedings in the second period and looked to be heading for all three points when Glendinning deliberately handled outside his area but just as everyone waited for a Jordan Owens' winner, his sibling had other ideas.

"We defended well in the second-half because down to 10-men you're always going to be under pressure because they're league champions but big Caolan (Loughran) at the back was super, Tony Kane defended well and big Allan Jenkins helped us out but it was tough."

Stephen Baxter was equally impressed with the Sky Blues, shaking each player by the hand at the end.

"We upped our gears 20 per cent in the second-half and we were coming at them with all guns blazing, carved out a number of chances and the pressure was building and building and then you get the sending off and you're looking for a winner.

"But when you give away a free-kick, put a good delivery into the box and score a good goal there's not an awful lot you can do about that.

"When you have players playing the way they played today you tip your hat and say 'well done' and that's why I stood and congratulated them as they were coming off."

BALLYMENA: Glendinning, Ervin, Wallace, K Owens, Loughran, T Kane, Thompson (McCloskey, 66 mins), Jenkins, Friel (McCauley, 78 mins), McMurray, Faulkner. Unused subs: Flynn, E Kane, Shevlin.

CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, McClean, Gault (Mitchell, 46 mins), Coates, Forsythe, Cushley, Clarke (Snoddy, 81 mins), J Owens, Carvill, Heatley. Unused subs: Beverland, Soares, Dougherty.

Referee: Steven Taylor (Belfast)

Man of the match: Kyle Owens

Match rating: 7/10

Belfast Telegraph