David Jeffrey hailed his Ballymena United players’ “courageous” performance as they calimed a vital last-gasp-win over Warrenpoint Town today.
It had looked as though the Sky Blues would have to settle for a draw against their 10-man opponents until two late goals earned them a 3-1 win at the Showgrounds.
“I’m not going to put any spin on it - we didn’t reach anywhere near the heights we reached last week,” said Jeffrey.
“I’ve got to say - and this is not an excuse, it’s a simple fact - the pitch is brutal. It’s very difficult for the players to play on - you have to take three touches before you get the ball under control.
“But it is what it is, it was the same for both teams. In terms of the quality of the play, I’m sure it probably wasn’t the most entertaining but the bottom line for us is that we said to the players beforehand we want to get away from this relegation zone.
“The two words that I would use to sum our performance up are ‘courageous’ and ‘stickability’.
“There was a time when I would maybe have taken umbrage with people if they said we grind results out but today we did grind that result out and I make no apologies for it.
“He probably won’t get the headlines but Alan Blayney made three or four great saves and kept us in the game and that was most significant.”
Jeffrey also hailed the impact of substitutes Jonny Frazer and Willie Faulkner, who combined for those two late goals.
“We just knew we had to change it and Willie Faulkner and Jonny Frazer did tremendously well when they came on.
“With something like happened today people will say ‘wasn’t that a great substitution?’ - the reality is you go with your stomach and instincts and think ‘we’ve got to change this’.
“I simply asked Willie ‘can you go on and win it for us?’. He replied ‘no problem’ and then went on and did it.
“Jonny Frazer was superb when he came on - he gave us that wee injection of pace. Jonny and William made the difference because we felt Warrenpoint were tiring a wee bit and I felt we had to put something different on and on this occasion it worked out.
“The players themselves know they didn’t play anywhere near the level they played last week. There was a wee bit of what I call Showgrounds-itis. They were at home in front of their own supporters and there is an expectation so there were nerves among the players.
“There was no n eed for me to go in and rant and rave and yell and give out. I told the players these people in the stands are busting for you to do well so don’t allow yourselves to become under pressure because when you have that, you’ll not move as quickly and you’ll not anticipate.
“Today we were waiting until they had the ball before we were pressing so it was almost as if we looked lethargic but it wasn’t lethargy in any way, it was simply like a delayed reaction.
“The second half was better than the first and they are absolutely bouncing now. They are coming off five defeats on the bounce and they are human beings and they need a wee bit of belief and encouragement.
“Ordinarily I would probably have let a gulder but today there was no need.
“It’s harder to play against 10 men, there’s no doubt about that, and Warrenpoint are more than a decent side.
“Over the piece I think we did enough to deserve victory,” added Jeffrey.