DAVID JEFFREY: Ballymena praise for ‘warrior’ and ‘student’ Kris Lindsay as Dungannon draw

Dungannon Swifts manager Kris Lindsay.
Dungannon Swifts manager Kris Lindsay.

Kris Lindsay started Saturday having little more than 180 minutes of league management under his belt but finished it on equal terms with David Jeffrey, the most decorated boss of the modern Irish League era.

That is the beauty of our beautiful game, as Ballymena United dominated possession but failed to find the clinical edge to build on breaking the deadlock inside two minutes against a Dungannon Swifts side showing spirit beyond a position as the division’s basement side.

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey.

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey.

Lindsay - described by Jeffrey as both a ‘warrior’ and ‘student of the game’ from time spent together at Linfield - will have ambitions for his Swifts beyond citing a single point as cause for significant celebration but it stands as a landmark in the baby steps of his early management.

Having suffered back-to-back Danske Bank Premiership defeats to kick off life in the Dungannon dug-out, a cup win followed by first league point serve as signs of progress.

“I’m happy to get that first point but there is still a lot of work to do,” said Lindsay. “We still sit bottom of the league so need to continue progressing, picking up points, getting wins and moving up the table.

“It was a poor, poor goal to concede, especially so early on, as the ball hits the flag and we don’t deal with it, then we don’t defend the corner-kick delivery.

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey. Credit: Stephen Hamilton /Inpho

Ballymena United boss David Jeffrey. Credit: Stephen Hamilton /Inpho

“That was disappointing but then we got to grips with the game, kept our shape quite well defensively and caused Ballymena problems, with the goal at the end of a good move.

“Ballymena are on a good run of form and they penned us in over the second half but we defended well and put our bodies on the line.”

Jeffrey finished frustrated as his squad squandered a chance to push on from the perfect start provided by Kofi Balmer’s header - with both rival managers sharing a block by the latter to prevent Paul McElroy from scoring as a key moment with the game 1-1 following Ryan Harpur’s equaliser.

“We started extremely brightly and went ahead after a few minutes,” said Jeffrey. “After we scored we continued to dominate.

“Then Dungannon played their way into it, the equaliser came from a catalogue of errors.

“In the second half we had the vast majority of play and opportunities, although Kofi Balmer produced a great saving tackle.

“If you don’t take your chances you cannot win games.”

Jeffrey set aside any post-match disappointment to praise Lindsay’s path from player into manager.

“It was always going to take Kris a little period to settle in but you could see how they applied themselves,” said Jeffrey. “As a player at Linfield he was one of the most fearless we’ve ever worked with, an absolute warrior.

“But always a student of the game and often engaged in conversations.

“He started doing his badges still as a player and I’ve watched with interest his coaching work at Glenavon.

“It’s no surprise he was eventually offered a manager’s post and I’ve not no doubt he’ll do very well at Dungannon.”

Lindsay, having shared the spoils, shared in his opposite number’s mutual admiration.

“You can only learn from someone like David given the success he has had across his career,” said Lindsay. “He has given up his time and we’ve spoken a few times since I came into the job.

“David’s never stayed static, even looking at the summer signings changing the direction of where he wants Ballymena to go and the formation switch to 3-5-2.

“You always want to be the best and to do that you learn from the best.”