Opinion: Why a ‘ton’ of goals isn’t always a good thing

A picture that perfectly encapsulates Ballymena United's afternoon at Ballinamallard as defender Paddy McNally puts the ball into his own net for the home side's third goal. Picture: Press Eye.
A picture that perfectly encapsulates Ballymena United's afternoon at Ballinamallard as defender Paddy McNally puts the ball into his own net for the home side's third goal. Picture: Press Eye.

On the face of it, there didn’t seem to be much significance in Leroy Millar’s late consolation goal for Ballymena United on Saturday.

Of course, the homegrown youngster will always remember his first senior goal for his hometown club, even if didn’t impact on a the result of a sobering defeat at Ballinamallard.

It was, however, a milestone goal in the context of Ballymena’s season in that it was the 100th goal of Ballymena’s Danske Bank Premiership campaign.

Yes, you read that correctly. There have been ONE HUNDRED goals in Ballymena’s 26 league fixtures this season. One hundred goals by the end of January.

There are teams who, when the season ends in April, won’t even be close to that figure, never mind not long after the turn of the year.

And that’s before you even consider the 29 goals in knockout ties involving the Sky Blues in the current campaign!

The really scary thing is that almost 60 per cent of that ‘ton’ has ended up in the back of United’s net.

A fellow journalist described Ballymena as ‘the entertainers of the Irish League’ recently. Trust me, there’s very little entertaining about watching your team get carved apart on an almost weekly basis.

With that sort of goals against column - United have conceded six more goals than bottom side Warrenpoint - Ballymena should be languishing at the foot of the table. The reason they aren’t is because they have a useful ability to score goals themselves - only the top four teams in the table have score more.

To be blunt, Ballymena’s defensive frailties mean they are not giving themselves the best possible chance to win matches.

It was the sixth time this season that Ballymena have scored twice in a game and not gone on to win the fixture. The same thing happened on a staggering ELEVEN occasions last season.

I often think that if a club is struggling for form, they will go scurrying through their fixture list to see when they come up against Ballymena.

Ballinamallard certainly didn’t look like a team that hadn’t won a league game since October but, crucially, they possessed the one essential attribute that Ballymena simply cannot cope with - raw pace.

Ivan Sproule might have a few more miles on the clock at cross-channel and international level than he did before he earned his move across the water, but there’s still enough pace in his legs to give Irish League full-backs plenty to worry about.

Similarly the introduction of Ryan Campbell at half-time posed Ballymena all manner of problems - his burst into the box only to be upended by Kyle McVey a case in point.

Of course, you can speculate that the loss of three of United’s regular back four to suspension had an impact - but if some of those who were given their chance on Saturday - all over the pitch - find themselves heading for the exit door in the summer, you can be fairly sure Saturday’s display will have played at least some part in that.