Belfast Telegraph

David Jeffrey confident his Ballymena side will strike back after first home defeat

 

By Alex Mills

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey believes his boys will not suffer a hangover from their first home defeat of the season.

The Braidmen were edged out by Linfield in a thrilling midweek Shield semi-final, when Andy Waterworth's double strike earned David Healy's side a slot against Crusaders in the decider.

It was only United's second defeat in 22 outings, but Jeffrey insists it's crucial his team show a positive reaction when Dungannon Swifts visit the Warden Street Showgrounds today.

"We put the Shield defeat to the side and move on," said Jeffrey. "We have a really tough game against Dungannon. The last time, it was Kris Lindsay's early days as manager.

"It was a game we should and could have won comfortably if we had taken our chances. Unfortunately, we didn't do so.

"It took an absolute wonder tackle from Kofi Balmer in the closing minutes to make sure we came away with one point.

"Dungannon are coming to us off a great run, having beaten Glentoran in the league and knocked Cliftonville out of the Irish Cup last weekend. They have been highly impressive.

"We've got to dust ourselves down and have a head count, because we have a number of players carrying knocks. On the plus side, Adam Lecky returns from suspension."

Jeffrey also has bad memories from his team's last league outing when they were pipped by Crusaders at Seaview.

He said: "We were desperately unlucky, Crusaders won it by a fortuitous late goal from Paul Heatley. I don't think anyone disagreed that we deserved a point."

Jeffrey also reckons his boys deserved more on Tuesday.

He added: "I still maintain we are punching above our weight in terms of our budget and resources. We decided to make best use of the squad in the midweek match, making six changes from last Saturday. I was proud of the performance and thought we deserved extra-time.

"I felt we had much more possession and Linfield were looking to counter-attack. I was really pleased with how we applied ourselves and with the commitment and work rate. We played some good football.

"I told the players not to be getting into the mindset of having played so well, it's acceptable not to get into another final - that will not happen under David Jeffrey and Bryan McLoughlin's watch."

And Jeffrey is delighted with the influence of Ryan Harpur, who is due to face his former employers for the first time today.

"He is settling in well," he said. "Ryan is a player we've admired for a long time. I've been pleased with his contribution in the last two games."

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