Belfast Telegraph

Glenn Ferguson aiming to stop the rot and get Ballymena United on track

Winless braidmen find themselves in must-win territory

By Adrian Rutherford

Glenn Ferguson has labelled tonight's clash with Carrick Rangers as a must-win game for Ballymena United.

That may seem an astounding statement given that we are still in the first month of the season, but Ferguson isn't in the habit of over-dramatising things.

It has been a miserable start to the season for the Sky Blues, who have lost all of their opening four matches and shipped 15 goals in the process.

Last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Dungannon Swifts made it their worst start to a season in 60 years.

Lose again tonight and it will set a new - and very much unwanted - club record as the worst ever opening to a campaign.

Ferguson, who has come under mounting pressure from fans even though August has yet to pass, knows that the dismal run cannot continue.

And he admits it must end tonight when newly-promoted Carrick visit The Showgrounds.

"It will be tough but it's a must-win game, we know that," Ferguson said.

"We are at home, but if we can play like we did against Dungannon then I would be pretty confident that we would get a result.

"If the players take the same attitude they showed at Dungannon into Friday night's game then I think we'll definitely be sitting with three points on the board."

Although Ferguson saw signs of improvement at Stangmore Park last weekend, ultimately the game ended in a fourth straight defeat for his side.

Nearly 80 minutes of good work was undone by a defensive error which let in Ryan Harpur for the opening goal.

As the Braidmen pushed for an equaliser in the final 10 minutes they were hit on the break, eventually losing 2-0, to follow earlier defeats at the hands of Linfield, Glenavon and Coleraine.

A section of fans had already turned on Ferguson before the game.

And afterwards he launched an angry outburst against what he branded "armchair keyboard warriors" who know nothing about football.

Despite growing dissent on the terraces, Ferguson believes it is no different to anything he experienced during a long and highly successful playing career in the Irish League.

"I played the game for 24 years and got abused every week by fans -and at some stage that abuse came from Ballymena fans," he added.

"Unfortunately I'm in the position now where I'm managing the club and I'm getting abused by the fans again.

"I've got to concentrate on what's happening on the pitch and try to turn it around."

Ferguson will be hoping that his team can get those fans back onside ahead of tonight's game.

However, Carrick have shown they are not the pushovers some had suggested, having posted four points from their first four games.

They won at Dungannon on the opening day and also held Glentoran.

Last weekend they only lost by a single goal at Cliftonville.

Given all that, as well as the form of his own team, Ferguson is well aware that tonight's game will not be easy.

"I've seen it before with newly-promoted teams," he said.

"You go back to the first season when Ballinamallard United came into the Premiership and did really well.

"It's a real novelty for them. They work their socks off in every single game because they are in the Premiership and want to stay there.

"Ballinamallard did it, Warrenpoint have done it and Carrick will do the exact same.

"Every game is like a cup final to them and we have to be ready for that.

"We need to find a way to break them down and take the three points."

With only a few more days of the transfer window left, time is running out for managers to make last-minute adjustments to their playing squads.

Last week Ferguson brought in 21-year-old defender Gareth Rodger (pictured) from St Johnstone on loan, but 'Spike' is undecided about whether to delve back into the market before Monday's deadline.

"Every manager would always like to strengthen their team, but strengthening your team with the right players and with the right finances too is a completely different ball game," said Ferguson.

"We do have, I believe, a good bunch of players.

"Their confidence is low and it's just trying to get as much out of them as possible."

One win might do the trick - and it's a case of the sooner the better as far as Ferguson is concerned.

Belfast Telegraph


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