Belfast Telegraph

Cup misery will inspire Ballymena in the future: David Cushley

DAVID Cushley's League Cup semi-final heartbreak has only served to heighten his belief that Ballymena United can be the team to end Crusaders' 24-match unbeaten run.

Cushley suffered the agony of his 21-minute hat-trick meaning almost nothing as the Crues fought back from 3-1 down at half-time to beat the Sky Blues in extra-time in Tuesday night's last four clash.

Now, though, they have an immediate opportunity to gain revenge as the teams meet again tomorrow in the league at the Showgrounds.

It's not only his stunning cup treble – which almost became four in the second-half only for another effort to crash off a post – that has Cushley believing that Glenn Ferguson's men can inflict defeat on Crusaders, he only has to look back to August to know that it is possible as Ballymena are the last time to beat the Shore Road side.

"I don't like getting beaten at all, let alone in a semi-final," said Cushley.

"It was hard for us to take because I thought we played particularly well in the first half and we had chances in the second half too that could have won us the game.

"I was pleased with the hat-trick, but the shine was taken off it because we didn't go on to win.

"It's good to get a chance to put things right so quickly, and although Crusaders are a good team and it is proven that they are hard to beat, the way we played against them will give us the belief that we can beat them – and we've done it before."

While the Crues keep on picking up points, as far as recent form goes for Ballymena, the only games they have lost were to teams in the top four.

Despite that they could still be in the top half of the table by Christmas if the y do put the brakes on the Crues and other results go their way.

"We've been playing well over the last couple of months, but killing teams off has been the problem for us," said Cushley.

"At 3-1 up on Tuesday night, we thought the game was dead and buried, but obviously it wasn't.

"We have to stay fully focused for the full 90 minutes and even when teams start to put us under pressure we need to do the things that got us into winning positions in games in the first place."

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