Nelson urges team-mates to keep focus in face of adversity

Dwayne Nelson has been a consistent performer for Ballymena United this season. Picture: Press Eye.

Dwayne Nelson has been a consistent performer for Ballymena United this season. Picture: Press Eye.

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Dwayne Nelson believes that Saturday’s dramatic events at the Showgrounds show how Ballymena United’s players need to keep calm when faced with adversity.

Ballymena’s players reacted furiously to the incident in which referee Colin Burns over-ruled his assistant’s decision to award a penalty and Nelson believes United’s players switched off, resulting in Cliftonville scoring within 60 seconds.

The goalkeeper, along with most of his team-mates, voiced their opinions to the referee, with Nelson’s protests earning him a yellow card.

Recalling the dramatic incident, Nelson told Times Sport: “The linesman was standing with the flag across his chest.

“I ran up to the referee and asked him ‘why can you not go and speak to him?’.

“He spoke to him over the mic and I said to the ref ‘he has a better view than you’ and he said ‘I’m the referee and I make the decisions’.

“I know I was at the other end of the pitch and wasn’t the closest to it but the linesman has flagged from five yards away.

“We made a reaction and paid for it by conceding a goal straight away

“It’s your natural instinct to protest. Anybody can make a bad call and we confronted him about it but we have to learn from situations like that.

“What made it worse was that the goal took a defection off Stephen McBride. I was already moving the other way because I thought he was going to shoot across me and the shot hit Steeky, hit me and then went in off the post.

“I was disappointed to concede a goal like that but my momentum had already started to take me the other way.

“There second goal was a great strike by Jude Winchester and I told him that when we were shaking hands after the game but I don’t know if anybody closed him down.

“It was great to come back from that and score an equaliser straight away because we knew there wasn’t long left.

“We did the same against Glentoran and we showed again what a good team spirit we have.

“This season especially e have all stuck together and hopefully we can keep driving on.

“We have showed tremendous fighting spirit in both those games, particularly as we fell behind in both of them with only a few minutes left.

Glenn and he boys keep driving into us the importance of working right to the end. You can have much talent as you want but your work rate has to come first.

“People ask me what the difference is this season and I would say we’re probably that wee bit more professional in training and in our preparation for matches - right down to wee tings like being in certain places at certain times.

“There’s a great togetherness in the team - if someone makes a tackle there will be someone else right there to back him up.

“People keep talking about top six but the way the league is going, with everybody beating everybody, if we can keep a level of consistency, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be up there,” added Nelson.