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David Jeffrey hails 'top class' Ryan Waide after late leveller in Ballymena's draw at Warrenpoint

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Ryan Waide netted a late leveller for United.

Ryan Waide netted a late leveller for United.

©INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilton

Ryan Waide netted a late leveller for United.

Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey hailed the character of his team and class of Ryan Waide for earning the Sky Blues a draw at Warrenpoint Town in a hard-fought encounter.

The sides drew at Milltown in midweek and it was the same outcome last night thanks to a brilliant 87th-minute finish from Waide after impressive substitute Brandon Doyle looked to have won it on 85 for the home team.

Prior to that, Adam Carroll netted for Barry Gray's men in the first half, just 48 seconds after Town goalkeeper Gabriel Sava saved Paul McElroy's penalty, with Shay McCartan levelling for the visitors early in the second period.

Jeffrey, whose side remain in seventh, said: "We were 2-1 down with a few minutes to go and showed massive character. The players were gutted after the game and, yes, we could have done better with their goals, but I was really pleased with how we responded.

"I told the boys it would have been quite easy to give up the ghost going behind so late but they kept going and Ryan Waide came up with a phenomenal finish."

Youngster Waide, signed from Linfield last year, was a threat throughout. For his first United goal, he showed composure to control a cross and then a clinical edge with a sparkling volley.

Jeffrey added: "For Ryan, we have given him encouragement, support and lots of TLC. It hasn't been all nice, fluffy stuff. There's been times when we have been very clear about what Ryan has to do and his application has been first class. I was delighted to see him score that amazing goal."

Ballymena's aim this season is to break into the top six. Ninth-placed Town would love a shot at seventh and the Euro Play-Offs but even if that lofty ambition doesn't materialise, the Milltown outfit have kicked on this term with Gray's astute signings key.

Warrenpoint are not alone in having injuries to several influential players - with Jake O'Connor added to the list after dislocating his shoulder yesterday - but in years gone by they wouldn't have been able to cope. Gray has changed that by adding quality.

Sava showed his, keeping out McElroy's spot-kick just after the half-hour when Ben Mullen was adjudged to have felled Jude Winchester in the box.

Before a minute elapsed, Carroll had hooked his side into the lead following a scramble in the area.

The alert McCartan scored from close range to equalise on 56 minutes before Doyle (left) and Waide provided late drama with their well-taken strikes.

Gray said: "We are disappointed because, when we took the lead so late, we only had to hold out for a few minutes and we conceded a sloppy goal.

"It sort of feels like a defeat but it wasn't that at all and I have to give huge credit to my players because their endeavour to churn out performances this season has been fantastic.

"Their energy and level of commitment really has been outstanding."

WARRENPOINT: Sava 7, Ball 6, Dillon 6, O'Connor 6 (Doyle, 59 mins, 7), O'Sullivan 6 (Forsythe, 85 mins, 5), McCaffrey 6, Gallagher 6, Carroll 7, Mullen 6, Wallace 7, Evans 6 (McVeigh, 71 mins, 6). Unused subs: Coleman, Swan, Cowan, Hutchinson.

BALLYMENA: Williamson 6, Redman 7, Winchester 6, McElroy 6, McCartan 7, Waide 8, Hume 6, Keeley 6, Kelly 6, Graham 6 (Ervin, 27 mins, 6), Wylie 7 (McCready, 87 mins, 5). Unused subs: Glendinning, Kane, McKeown, Harpur, Beattie.

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown) 6


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