Euro play-off fate out of United’s hands, admits Jeffrey

Ballymena must beat Portadown and hope that Dungannon Swifts don't win their game, if they are to stand any chance of finishing seventh and claiming a European qualifier play-off place. Picture: Press Eye.
Ballymena must beat Portadown and hope that Dungannon Swifts don't win their game, if they are to stand any chance of finishing seventh and claiming a European qualifier play-off place. Picture: Press Eye.

David Jeffrey accepts that Ballymena United’s European play-off aspirations are no longer in their own hands.

Back-to-back defeats against Warrenpoint Town and Ballinamallard United in the past week-and-a-half have dented the Sky Blues’ hopes of finishing seventh in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Ballymena can still claim that seventh spot by beating Portadown in their final league fixture of the season at the Showgrounds this Saturday.

But even in the event of a Ballymena win, they will have to rely on Dungannon Swifts losing against Warrenpoint Town.

Even if Ballymena win and Dungannon draw, Swifts will still claim seventh place on goal difference, unless United beat Portadown by EIGHT clear goals.

“We still have an outside chance of getting seventh but it depends on other people,” said Jeffrey.

“We created the expectation so quickly because we did so well for those first six games and got ourselves safe and you do want to raise the bar.

“I’m not looking to beat Portadown so that we may get seventh - we want to beat Portadown just to win a game of football.

“We’re not at the point of setting the players too many targets - we set them one big target and they reached it,” added Jeffrey, who will be without the suspended David Cushley, while Tony Kane also begins a two-match ban for accumulating 10 cautions.

In the event that Ballymena do claim seventh place, they will travel to fourth-placed Cliftonville next Friday, May 6 (7.45pm).

The winners of that game would then take on either Coleraine or Glentoran with a lucrative Europa League spot at stake.

* The final Paramount SC table quiz of the season takes place in the Bowling Club this Friday night, April 29.