Glenn Ferguson praised the resilience of his Ballymena United players after they claimed their first point of the season on Friday night.
The Sky Blues boss hailed his players’ character after playing 89 minutes with 10 men before Allan Jenkins’ late equaliser clinched a 1-1 draw with Carrick Rangers.
“It’s never dull here but it could certainly be made easier!
“I will take responsibility for players’ actions in terms of making mistakes and what they do on the pitch. Kyle McVey has made a dreadful mistake and we’ve been severely punished.
“Jim Ervin has paid the price again but it’s easy to give that penalty. Matthew Shevlin should have had one at the other end, hands down. We didn’t get it and ultimately he ends up getting booked.
“That could have levelled the game up but what I’ve got to do tonight is give a bunch of players who have been down in their boots, we’ve tried to lift them and going 1-0 down so early and playing so long with 10 men, I’ve got to give them immense credit for digging in, staying in the game and ultimately getting their reward at the end.”
Ferguson said he did not expect the reaction to the goal when Jenkins and a number of United players ran over to celebrate with the under-pressure manager.
“I didn’t know they were going to do that. Maybe they feel the same way about me as I do about them.
“I try to protect them as much as I can and look after them. When they deserve criticism in the changing room, they certainly get it from me. When they have done something that needs publicised, they get that from me.
“I’m as honest as I can be with them and that was probably reciprocated when they scored the goal.
Ferguson was also unaware of the incident just before half-time when stewards ordered a section of supporters to remove a banner bearing the motto ‘Spike Out’ from the walkway at the back of the stand, prompting a melee.
“To be honest, I didn’t see a thing.
“I will never criticise supporters to a certain extent unless I feel it’s worthy. They pay their money and they are entitled to their opinion.
“As a player I took so much stick from fans over 20 odd years so I have broad shoulders and thick skin. If my own supporters or away supporters want to give me stick, that is entirely up to them.
“But certainly, as a team and a squad of players, it’s easier if everyone was singing off the same hymnsheet,” added Ferguson.
For more reaction to tonight’s game see Tuesday’s Ballymena Times.