'He was whacked twice': Why Ballymena's Adam Lecky shouldn't have been sent off against Crusaders, explains Jeffrey
Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey admits to having a certain degree of sympathy for Adam Lecky, who was dismissed in the midweek League Cup tie against Crusaders.
The beanpole striker, making his first start since August, got caught up in an off-the-ball incident with Crues midfielder Phillip Lowry, which left referee Steven Gregg with little option but to produce a red card.
Jeffrey maintains that Lecky was fouled not once but twice leading up to the incident, which resulted in him seeing red.
United had just nursed the big Castlederg man back to full fitness after he sustained an injury against Newington in a League Cup tie, but his moment of madness means he will now miss today's Danske Bank Premiership clash against Larne at the Warden Street Showgrounds.
"Adam was absolutely distraught in the dressing room after the game," said Jeffrey. "He apologised to me and he apologised to the players.
"I've got to say if the fouls on him were awarded prior to that incident, the sending off situation doesn't occur. I think we have got to be objective - only one person can have an answer to that.
"For me, they were clear fouls. Adam Lecky doesn't react like that. It just wasn't once, it was twice in very quick succession - he was whacked twice.
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"I've explained in that type of situation he has to be disciplined, but that situation wasn't caused purely by Adam Lecky.
"We had taken great, great care to get Adam back after injury. A number of times, he felt that he was ready. But when our medical peopled tested and checked him, we discovered he wasn't physically ready to come back.
"I explained his health, well-being and our duty of care to him was most important to us as a football club.
"What we didn't want was him to have a stop-start return.
"And I thought he did tremendously well up until his dismissal. His hold-up play was top notch and he had a couple of decent efforts at goal."
Jeffrey's boys now face another mouth-watering challenge against Larne, who are looking for their first win in six outings.
Jeffrey added: "Larne will be another very, very difficult game. We did well at Inver earlier in the season and they will come looking for revenge.
"We'll look forward to it as we do in every game. We'll assess the squad to see who we have available and we will prepare accordingly.
"We are going through a challenging period, I can't fault the effort and commitment of the players.
"We are getting everything we can out of them.
"Injuries are not helping us at this moment in time. Leroy Millar is now out long-term (with a metatarsal injury), while Ryan Harpur tweaked a groin in midweek.
"We also have to handle Cathair Friel very carefully - that's why he wasn't involved against Crusaders. I thought we played tremendously well, and statistics will show that we probably had more chances over the duration.
"I felt had we managed to keep 11 men on the pitch, we would have won the game.
"The longer the game went on I thought it was a certainty to go to penalties.
"We got through on penalties the last time (in the Shield), Crusaders have done it this time.
"They are where we want to be in terms of the strength of the overall squad - there is no point in saying anything else.
"Overall, we responded well following the disappointment of the last 30 minutes in our previous game against Glentoran."