Jeffrey hails 'phenomenal' Ross Glendinning as Ballymena make wasteful Cliftonville pay the price
Ballymena United 2 Cliftonville 1
David Jeffrey paid tribute to goalkeeper Ross Glendinning whose last gasp heroics ensured that Ballymena United completed a remarkable comeback against Cliftonville.
This was the ultimate game of two halves. For the opening 45 minutes, the visitors were fantastic, playing fast, free-flowing football and how they were only Ruaidhri Donnelly's wonderfully-crafted 24th minute goal to the good was hard to credit.
Glendinning certainly played his part in that, as did some fantastic defending but they were helped by some wasteful finishing when Cliftonville fashioned chance after chance.
After the break, however, it was a totally different story.
United levelled when Leroy Millar's lung-bursting charge got him into the box and when he fired across, Andy McGrory tapped home his fifth goal of the campaign in the 57th minute.
Twelve minutes later they snatched the lead, McGrory's cross headed goalwards by Ryan Mayse but taking a huge deflection off Conor McDermott and bouncing past a helpless Richard Brush.
The Reds rallied, McDermott coming close twice, and, deep into injury-time, Glendinning got his hands to a Joe Gormley piledriver that would have earned the Reds a point.
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"In the second-half, we were a different side and there were a number of people who epitomised the performance," explained Jeffrey.
"Ross Glendinning right at the end, what an absolutely unbelievable save, and I thought he was quite phenomenal. We brought Declan Carville primarily to give us a bit of strength and steel in the middle of the park and I asked him to job (in attack) and in the second-half he was amazing.
"Then we have the mercurial Andrew McGrory. We asked him to do what he could in terms of getting forward, providing crosses and scoring goals and he did both.
"It was really tight, there's no point saying otherwise, thin lines and fine margins, but we fought like absolute tigers."
Paddy McLaughlin struggled to come to terms with his side's Jekyll and Hyde performance.
"We knew it was coming, but we just didn't deal with the sustained pressure they put us under for the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second-half," he said.
"It's disappointing and something we have to work on because from being so good in the first-half, I thought we didn't come out for the second-half until it was 2-1."
BALLYMENA: Ross Glendinning, Ervin, McCullough, Addis, Whiteside (Balmer, 87 mins), Mayse (K Kane, 87 mins), McGrory, Kelly, Winchester, Millar, Carville. Unused subs: Williamson, McGinty, Harpur, Andrew Burns, Lavery.
CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McDermott, A Donnelly, Doherty, Gorman, Harney (Garrett, 90 mins), C. Curran (Maguire, 85 mins), Bagnall (R Curran, 74 mins), Gormley, R Donnelly, McMenamin. Unused subs: Dunne, Breen, Foster, Rocks.
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)
Man of the match: Ross Glendinning
Match rating: 8/10