Belfast Telegraph

Jeffrey eager to keep cup defence going ahead of Ards clash

 

By Stephen Alexander

David Jeffrey is determined that Ballymena United don't lose their grip on the Bet McLean League Cup - but is fully aware of the hurdle they have to overcome in tonight's quarter-final.

The Sky Blues host Ards in the first of a double-header of meetings between the sides in knockout competitions in quick succession - they also face off at the same venue in the Toals County Antrim Shield semi-final later this month.

"We are the holders of this cup and we don't intend to give it up easily but I'm aware of the size of the mountain we've got to climb," said Jeffrey, who led United to the first League Cup triumph in the club's history last season.

"In the last round of this competition, Ards went and chinned Glenavon 4-0 just days before we went to Glenavon and got battered in the league. I talked to Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer that day and he said Ards were unbelievable that night.

"You also think about Ards' performance at Windsor Park when they knocked Linfield out of the County Antrim Shield and you know they can be a formidable team.

"We beat them 6-3 in the league in a really strange game where at times we looked really good and at other times we looked vulnerable. There's probably more pressure when you're holders and you don't want to surrender something - the idea is when you win a trophy, you go and win it again. That is how Bryan McLoughlin and I work."

Ballymena are likely to be without Johnny Flynn and Andrew Burns, who were injured in the weekend win over Linfield meaning that Ballymena's defensive options have been stretched to the limit, although that has been offset to an extent by the emergence of 17-year-old centre-back Kofi Balmer.

"We never make injuries an excuse because injuries create opportunities for others.

"We have brought Kofi in and he was good against Glentoran and even better against Linfield.

"He is the sort of young lad who will keep his feet on the ground, keep listening and learning and he is a tremendous prospect," added Jeffrey.

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