Goal hero Thompson hails United’s never-say-die attitude

Gary Thompson holds off the challenge of H&W Welders' Scott Davidson during Saturday's Irish Cup tie. Picture: Press Eye.
Gary Thompson holds off the challenge of H&W Welders' Scott Davidson during Saturday's Irish Cup tie. Picture: Press Eye.

Gary Thompson hopes that Ballymena United’s never-say-die attitude in cup matches can produce a successful outcome in the Irish Cup.

The midfielder’s last-gasp goal took United past the challenge of Harland & Wolff Welders in Saturday’s thrilling quarter-final at Tillysburn and into a semi-final showdown against Portadown.

“The last 15 minutes were crazy - It’s just great to get through,” said Thompson.

“We started well but you need to get the first goal in those type of matches and we didn’t.

“I thought for the first opening 15 to 20 minutes we did really well, we got about them and made chances.

“When you don’t get the all important first goal, there seems to be a bit of a panic and once they get the first goal, they have something to hold on to.

“We maybe got lucky with the goal that the Welders had disallowed and I didn’t think the challenge on me was a penalty. I had shot and just went over the fella.

“When Tippy misses the penalty you think ‘it’s not our day’ but when we got the first goal, they started to panic and we seemed to get energy from somewhere that we hadn’t had for the first 70 minutes.

“For my goal the ball came to Allan Jenkins to shoot at goal and I said to myself ‘jump’.

“I jumped and it hit me in the groin area. I can’t remember much about it but as I told the boys, I’m deadly from a yard out!

“We got a couple of bits of good fortune but when you’re 2-0 down, you miss a penalty and still come back, you have to give yourselves a bit of credit.

“We’ll take wee breaks like that whenever they come,” added Thompson, who hailed the team spirit which has rekindled United’s reputation as genuine contenders in knockout competitions.

“Since I have been here, there haven;t been too many cup competitions that we have gone out of early - we’ve given them a real good rattle.

“Even the two cups that we are out of this season, we gave them a really good go.

“At 2-0 I thought we were lacking energy and I thought this was maybe the day that ended, but the boys dug out a big result.

“Once again in the Irish Cup, we bring big crowds, which is great to see and it’s good to send them home happy.

“The manager came in and there was no pat on the back - he told us the performance wasn’t good enough and we took that on board.

“But it’s cup football, where winning is the only thing that matters and we’re in the semi-final of the Irish Cup,” added Thompson.