Belfast Telegraph

McAlorum turns back the clock to deliver midfield masterclass

Ballymena United 3 Glenavon 1

By Billy Weir

One of the forgotten men of the Irish League showed that he still has plenty to offer with a stand-out display in one of the stand-out results of the weekend.

Stephen McAlorum's first start for Ballymena United came just at the right time for David Jeffrey's whose crippling casualty list worsened this week with midfielder Gary Thompson breaking two bones in his foot.

His absence meant a return for McAlorum and he ran the show against Glenavon, galvanising his side after the shock of going a goal down in the second minute when Sammy Clingan converted from the spot.

Having conceded 10 goals in their previous two encounters this season the writing looked to be on the wall for United but in an edge of your seat encounter they hit back thanks to a mouth-watering finish from Kevin Braniff.

His lob was perfection and like McAlorum he was on duty due to an injury to Johnny McMurray, and when Glenavon, aggrieved that referee Raymond Hetherington waved away two even stringer calls for penalties, failed to show up for the second period, United deservedly wrapped things up with goals from Cathair Friel and Kyle Owens. Boss Jeffrey paid tribute to McAlorum and his team's spirit after the game.

"The person that epitomised it for me was Stephen McAlorum. He has had a challenging time thus far culminating in the recent passing of his mum and we have just been encouraging him and asking him to be patient," explained Jeffrey.

Opposite number Gary Hamilton had no complaints about the result but plenty about the officials, whose decisions he felt had turned the game on its head.

"But we felt that the first-half had a massive, massive influence on the game. Our boys came in and they were annoyed and frustrated because of the decisions and these things can change the way games go," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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