Belfast Telegraph

Jeffrey is expecting a response from his Braidmen

 

Tough day: David Jeffrey says Glens loss was hard to take
Tough day: David Jeffrey says Glens loss was hard to take

By Billy Weir

The door of the last chance saloon is starting to swing and the rotund performer may just start to warm up her vocal chords if Ballymena United fail to see off the challenge of Institute this evening.

Saturday's dismal defeat by Glentoran means David Jeffrey's Braidmen trail leaders Linfield by nine points and can't afford any more slip-ups, starting with tonight's rearranged game against the north west outfit.

This is United's game in hand and with only seven matches remaining they must realistically win all of them and hope Linfield lose in the run-in to have any chance of a first Gibson Cup, but realistically keeping their noses ahead of third-placed Crusaders is their main target now.

The Crues, who are at Warrenpoint Town tonight, are five points behind the Sky Blues, and will look to keep up the pressure on Jeffrey's men who can seal European football by finishing as runners-up.

In a season of many highs, Saturday's reversal was one of the biggest lows, United second best in every department and getting exactly what they deserved against Gary Smyth's men - nothing.

"They are absolutely gutted because they know they didn't perform, they know that. But there is no finger-pointing, no blaming, it is what it is and it's now how we respond come Tuesday evening," explained Jeffrey.

"We're a brand new group of players who have done fantastically well. You'll have those people who will have said, 'Ah, I told you so, the wheels will fall off and blah, blah, blah' but listen, that's people who have built us up and are ready to shoot us down.

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"We've never said that, we've been very clear where we're at and the journey on which we're on.

"Saturday was disappointing, it wasn't like us in any way, shape or form, but I can't think of too many days where we haven't played this year, very, very few days.

"It's going to be tough, no doubt about it. It's how we respond, that's the message to the players."

It is also a massive game for Institute, who are ticking over well under interim boss Kevin Doherty following Paddy McLaughlin's departure to Cliftonville.

They need just two more points to ensure they cannot be dragged into the relegation play-off, while a win would bring them level on points with the Glens, who currently sit in seventh which would mean a place in the European play-offs.

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