Belfast Telegraph

Shevlin can finish with a flourish: Jeffrey

Net gains: Matthew Shevlin has been in fine form recently
Net gains: Matthew Shevlin has been in fine form recently

By Stephen Alexander

David Jeffrey has backed Matthew Shevlin to play a major part in Ballymena United's end-of-season run-in.

The 19-year-old homegrown striker took his tally for the campaign to nine with a brace in the 2-0 win over Ballinamallard which clinched the Sky Blues' place in the top six of the Danske Bank Premiership for the second year in succession.

Shevlin missed out on the climax to Ballymena's European qualification last year - he spent the second half of the season on loan at Ards - but Jeffrey believes the striker can star against the league's top teams in the remaining weeks of the campaign.

"Matthew has had a challenge because he's competing for a place alongside established players like Cathair Friel, Jonathan McMurray and Kevin Braniff," said the United boss, whose side entertain Irish Cup finalists Cliftonville tonight (7.45pm). "He produced two top-notch finishes against Ballinamallard and his work rate was remarkable.

"Earlier in the season there were people writing and saying silly stuff that we didn't know where to play Matthew - of course we knew where to play Matthew, we wanted to get him into the team to encourage him.

"Sometimes you have to play younger players out of position to get them in the team and get the experience they need - I did the same at Linfield with Jamie Mulgrew and Philip Lowry.

"We always knew where Matthew was going to play and injuries to others have given him an opportunity and when that happens, we trust our young players - it was the same thing with Kofi Balmer earlier in the season.

"We've had a good season but it's not finished yet - we want to see how far we can go again.

"We've had some ding-dong games with Cliftonville and now we have to do it all again."

Belfast Telegraph


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