Belfast Telegraph

Cup progress vital for United: Jeffrey

Ballymena United 2 Crumlin Star 0

In control: Star’s Brendan O’Neill clears from Steven McCullough
In control: Star’s Brendan O’Neill clears from Steven McCullough
Billy Weir

By Billy Weir

Ballymena United's win over Crumlin Star in the Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup may have lacked the drama of the BBC series of the same name, but for David Jeffrey all that mattered was keeping his season alive.

Declan Carville was the unlikely hero for the Sky Blues after coming off the bench to settle United nerves as they struggled to break down the Amateur League side's stubborn resistance.

He headed home a Ross Lavery corner in the 66th minute and, deep into injury-time, set up Cathair Friel to give the score a somewhat flattering look.

Jeffrey doffed his cap to Paul Trainor's outfit, who threw everything at their hosts and fully deserved the generous ovation they received from the relieved home fans at the end.

"While they forced a succession of corners near the end, there probably weren't too many clear-cut chances, but goodness, gracious me were they a tough nut to crack," admitted Jeffrey, who now takes his side to Warrenpoint Town in round six.

"I am delighted to be in the hat for the next round. I said to the players beforehand that when you are playing opposition from further down, understand this will be a big day for Crumlin Star but this is our biggest day of the season, make no mistake about that.

"While they had a lot to play for coming here, we had an awful lot to play for and at times there was a desperation and a nervousness. Their young goalkeeper made a great save and I'm not so sure if Andy McGrory's goal was offside but, given our luck of late with refereeing decisions, we had to accept it and get on with it.

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"We kept plugging away and eventually we got our award.

"Declan scored a great goal, he set one up but the massive contribution other than that was that he won three headers, one after the other, and as a team we don't have too many big players and Declan was excellent."

While Trainor and his side enjoyed their crack at the big boys, their attention switches back to their own league aspirations.

"We can play a wee bit, we did the treble last year and the previous year, so they're a good bunch of kids and I'm really, really pleased for them," he said.

"I never like getting beaten, but they're a Premiership club, they have a lot of good players and all the best to them."

BALLYMENA: Williamson, T Kane, McCullough, Addis, Ervin, Reece Glendinning, McGrory, Kelly (Carville, 46 mins), Friel, Millar, Lavery . Unused subs: Whiteside, Mayse, McGinty, Knowles, K Kane, Winchester.

Crumlin Star: Fisher, Lyons (Lambe, 84 mins), A McNeill, Hawkins, McAuley, J McNeill, O'Neill (McIlkenny, 74 mins), Trainor, Murray, McBurney (Smyth, 74 mins), McKervey. Unused subs: Magill, Marley, Flood, Forbes.

Referee: Mark Dillon (Banbridge)

Man of the match: Jim Ervin

Match rating: 7/10

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