Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson felt his side missed a golden opportunity to progress in Saturday’s Tennent’s Irish Cup defeat by Linfield.
The Sky Blues, finalists and semi-finalists in the past two years, exited the competition at the first hurdle this time after losing 2-1 in extra time at Windsor Park.
“It’s disappointing because I think it’s a great opportunity missed,” said a rueful Ferguson.
“We started to play well and took control of the game when we scored and that’s when we really had to capitalise on it.
“We seemed to switch off when Linfield went down to 10 men - we seemed to think it was ‘job done’ for some reason.
“We didn’t seem to work as hard and then we got caught on the counter-attack after we had the ball in their box. They went on the counter-attack and got the ball in the box and Guy Bates was free.
“Sometimes when a team goes down to 10 men, they seem to get another gear, they work harder and Jamie Mulgrew became more influential in the game and we couldn’t counteract that.
“We could take advantage of the extra man - we needed someone to take control of the game and put their foot on the ball.
“Instead we started to go long and get the ball forward quicker than we should have and it has cost us.
“Willie Faulkner had done a great shift for us but he was starting to tire and we didn’t want to take any more risks with him so we threw young Stewart Nixon on but unfortunately he wasn’t really able to get into the game in the second period of extra time.
“We tried to get a bit more pace at the top end of the pitch but unfortunately we just fell short again.
“Nathan Hanley had a couple of chances and Jenks had a shot saved by the keeper with Matthew Shevlin following up but we have to be more clinical with the chances we do create,” added Ferguson.