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Half-time 'chat' helped Ballymena mount brilliant second half comeback at Dungannon, reveals boss Jeffrey

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Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

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Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

David Jeffrey insists he didn't bring out the hairdryer treatment at Stangmore Park, but did claim that a stern word at half-time helped his Ballymena United side to a fabulous second half comeback against Dungannon Swifts.

Trailing 1-0 at the interval to Michael Carvill's penalty, Jeffrey took the players back into the changing room for a dressing down, and whatever he said clearly worked.

Jude Winchester, Trai Hume and Paul McElroy (from the penalty spot) all scored within the first 15 minutes of the restart before Shay McCartan got a late double in a 5-1 rout, the Sky Blues' fourth win in their last five games.

It wasn't long ago that there were alarm bells ringing at the Showgrounds given Ballymena were struggling for a win on home soil and were languishing towards the bottom of the table.

But this win takes Jeffrey's men up to fourth, albeit 10 points behind leaders Larne, and the manager was left full of pride in his playing staff after their outstanding second half showing.

"We started brightly but then a penalty was given against us - I'm not sure it was, it looked rather soft - and after that Dungannon really were in the ascendancy and they could have got a second," admitted Jeffrey.

"At half-time we had a conversation with the players and reminded them of their abilities and their responsibility, and they responded brilliantly. All the praise and credit must go to the players, the second half was absolutely excellent.

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"They started winning first and second balls, they started passing with more precision, the movement was better and the quality of the goals were absolutely first class."

So, was it a case of the infamous 'hairdryer treatment' in the sheds at the break?

"I'm 58, I don't use hairdryers!" was the sly response.

"It was a conversation, and how that was delivered will remain within the confines of the changing room. Most importantly was the response of the players and some fabulous performances.

"I was mostly delighted that the supporters were back in, obviously with social distancing being done, and we've come away with a good result and a very good second half performance."

The turnaround in fortunes on Warden Street has been rapid, with the Braidmen going from a side in danger to one of the form teams streaking up the table.

With McCartan starting to find his feet after moving to the Irish League in the summer and the likes of Hume and McElroy in fine form too, there are few that will want to face them right now.

Jeffrey insists he was always confident they would turn things around after their slow start to the campaign and that he's still seeing improvements in their performances.

"We've worked very hard. We had an exceptional start when we beat Coleraine away from home with 10 men, phenomenal performance," explained the former Linfield chief.

"Then we came up against three of the big-hitters - Larne, Linfield and Crusaders - and while we didn't get anything from those games, I wasn't displeased with the performances, it was just full timers against part timers.

"The game that disappointed me the most was the Glenavon game where they were quicker and stronger and sharper to the ball, and that was a game we should be doing better.

"As a group we sat down and chatted about what we should be doing. We were able to work on one or two things, got a good result against a very good Warrenpoint side, then went to Solitude and got a good result.

"We're very boringly taking it a game at a time, but the incremental strides or baby steps have been good. Very pleased with how we're going at the moment."


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