Opinion: Unseemly scenes adding to United’s troubles on the pitch

This image, taken from social media, shows Allan Jenkins being restrained by team-mates and opponents from a confrontation with Ballymena United supporters after Saturday's defeat at Glenavon as United skipper Jim Ervin attempts to defuse the situation.

This image, taken from social media, shows Allan Jenkins being restrained by team-mates and opponents from a confrontation with Ballymena United supporters after Saturday's defeat at Glenavon as United skipper Jim Ervin attempts to defuse the situation.

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It was 15 minutes after the final whistle at Mourneview Park on Saturday and Glenn Ferguson had just finished his television interviews.

The Ballymena United manager was heading across the pitch to speak to the written Press when he was intercepted by Glenavon assistant manager Paul Millar, himself having just completed his TV commitments.

“I don’t know how we won that,” said Millar, with a sympathetic pat of Ferguson’s back.

“It was some difference from the last time,” added Millar, referencing the 7-1 trouncing Glenavon dished out at the Showgrounds in August.

Now you could argue that talk is cheap and it’s easy to hand out compliments when you’ve just won the game but my experience is that football people are generally honest enough to know when they’ve got out of jail.

Sadly for Ballymena, Saturday’s defeat followed an all-too-familiar pattern throughout the month of October - an encouraging enough display but, crucially, nothing to show for it in the points column.

All of which made some more unseemly exchanges between players and supporters at the end all the harder to understand.

I didn’t see the incident at all as I was putting the finishing touches to my match report and the first I knew about it was when I went to the dressing room areas for interviews, to be met with some of Ballymena’s staff and players with faces like thunder.

Having had the situation explained to me, I can understand the players’ frustration; it’s one thing having abuse heaped upon you when you’ve had a stinker but it’s quite another to get pelters after busting a gut, only to come up against a goalkeeper in the sort of form that Glenavon’s Jonny Tuffey was.

The keeper produced a top class display, capped by as good a penalty save as I have ever seen - it certainly wasn’t the stereotypical ‘nice height’ for the keeper.

Social media was awash with unedifying images like the one that accompanies this piece, of players being restrained and escorted away from confrontation with their own fans and it gives further credence to the suggestion that there is still an undercurrent of discontent from the protest at the Carrick match earlier in the season and a sense that, despite United’s improvement in September, the opposition to Ferguson, to borrow a well known phrase, “haven’t gone away you know”.

Saturday’s match followed on from encouraging displays against champions Crusaders and with 10 men at Portadown - but the big concern is that the flow of entries in the goals against column shows little sign of improvement from last season.

Ballymena continue to find it difficult to take points off the top six sides, meaning that it’s even more imperative that they score heavily in the next two games, starting with Dungannon this weekend before Carrick after that.