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Glentoran still one of the league's big hitters, says Ballymena boss David Jeffrey

 

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Baby steps: David Jeffrey is happy with Ballymena’s season so far

Baby steps: David Jeffrey is happy with Ballymena’s season so far

�INPHO/Matt Mackey

Baby steps: David Jeffrey is happy with Ballymena’s season so far

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey believes his boys face a 'mighty challenge' in today's showdown against Glentoran at the Warden Street Showgrounds.

Although Mick McDermott's expensive east Belfast outfit are labouring in the bottom half of the Danske Bank Premiership table, Jeffrey insists they remain one of the league's big hitters.

It's perhaps a clever form of psychology by the former Linfield chief, whose Sky Blues side approach the showdown unbeaten in their last five games, catapulting them up to fourth place.

They have conceded a solitary goal in that spell - and that was a spot kick by Dungannon Swifts' Michael Carvill last weekend.

In contrast, Glentoran's bid to rack up back to back league wins for the first time this season hit the buffers with a dismal midweek performance against Warrenpoint Town, who left the Oval with a well-earned point.

Jeffrey is under no illusions. He rapped: "We have another of the big hitters in town and it's going to be mightily, mightily tough. Glentoran have grabbed all the headlines, and rightly so, on their journey to full-time football, They have brought in a lot of quality, quality players.

"But we must focus on ourselves, four wins and a draw over the last five games, which we have worked very hard to achieve.

"We had an exceptional start to the league campaign by beating Coleraine away when reduced to 10 men. Then, we came up against the other big hitters, Linfield, Larne and Crusaders.

"And, while we didn't get anything from those games, I wasn't disappointed with the level or quality of our performances. Let's call a spade a spade, it was full-time clubs against a part-time club, that's a simple fact.

"We let ourselves down at home to Glenavon but we then got good results against Warrenpoint Town, Cliftonville, Carrick Rangers and at Portadown, where we got a draw and another clean sheet. Then, it was topped off with our showing (a 5-1 win) at Dungannon last weekend.

"We are boringly taking one game at a time. Those baby steps that I always talk about have been good."

Jeffrey makes no apology of setting the bar high in terms of performances, but he has experienced the highs and lows over the last two league campaigns, finishing runners-up to Linfield two years back, before slumping to 10th place last season.

"We had a horrible time last year, albeit we got to the final of the Shield and the Irish Cup," he added. "For a lot of teams that would be a great season.

"But the league has always been my bread and butter, so going by that, we didn't have a good year.

"However, we were desperately hit by the unavailability of players, primarily through injury.

"When that happens, you aren't able to create competition within the squad. It means if guys are not playing at their best, you have no choice but to continue to play them.

"The difficulty is then, sometimes their confidence takes a knock. We are very thankful of where we are at the moment in terms of injuries."

The colourful Jeffrey admitted it required a 'few words of wisdom' during the interval at Dungannon Swifts last week to spark his boys into action - they trailed 1-0 at that stage.

"I am 58 years of age, I don't use hair dryers," he laughed. "It was basically a conversation, but how that was delivered will remain within the confines of the dressing room."

Belfast Telegraph


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