GLENN Ferguson paid tribute to his Ballymena United players’ resolve after they came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Linfield at Windsor Park.
“I was delighted, frustrated, annoyed...a real day of mixed emotions,” said Ferguson.
“In the first half we didn’t play very well but we were still in the game and had a couple of chances ourselves. They hit the post twice and Dwayne has made a couple of good saves. Ally Teggart should probably have scored when he was though one-on-one.
“But the second half was completely different. We bossed the first 20 minutes and they scored against the run of play.
“We regrouped, made a couple of changes and went at them again.
Ferguson was delighted with the contribution all three of his substitutes – defender Shaun Maher, on at half-time for his debut, and later, Alan Davidson and Neil Lowry – made in United’s comeback
“To be honest, with 10 minutes of the first half to go, both centre-backs were coming off but I had a wee think about it and thought we might need the other two subs later on and we just took one off in the meantime.
“I thought we were being run ragged at the back but Chris Rodgers got the nod (to stay on) simply because he’s a bit quicker than Davy Munster.
“Shaun Maher showed he has a good turn of foot when he came on and he looks a good, strong, experienced, steady professional.
“We took a defensive midfielder (Gavin Taggart) off, put Allan Jenkins central and tried to get Gary Thompson and Alan Davidson on the ball and we played Neil Lowry in the hole.
“We wanted Neil to get the ball and run at them – we didn’t want him playing with his back to goal – and he was like a steam train going past their defenders.
“He has that in his locker but it has been frustrating at times trying to get that out of him. If he was to do that every week, maybe that move across the water could materialise.”
Ferguson was also full of praise for two-goal hero David Cushley.
“I told him at half-time what I thought was going wrong – I just thought he was trying too hard to impress so I told him to calm down and do what he does well, be strong, hold it in and bring other people into play.
“He did that and also got the bonus of a couple of goals and he possibly could have had a hat-trick near the end.
“I’ve known David for about four years and you know that you’ll get frustration, brilliance, bookings, goals – you have to take a chance on a player like him because on his day, he can be a matchwinner. He’s a good, honest, hard-working player,” added Ferguson.
“I hoped that the likes of Cush, Gary Thompson and Allan Jenkins would be up around the double figure mark of goals this season – I still wouldn’t rule out any of them because there’s a long way to go but we haven’t had a prolific goalscorer this season.
“Once Gary Liggett gets his first goal, I’m sure he’ll get a lot more – he just needs that wee break of a ball falling to his toe two yards out. All he has to do is keep working hard to get into those areas and it will come for him,” added Ferguson.