Shay McCartan’s Ballymena graft on top of guile attracts David Jeffrey praise
Shay McCartan’s selfless approach to life at Ballymena United was one highlight for manager David Jeffrey following stalemate at Shamrock Park.
The September signing arrived at The Showgrounds outfit after a career spent within the environment of full-time club football in England.
The 26-year-old playmaker was unable to deliver a final flourish to separate the sides in the weekend scoreless draw but offered evidence of the close control and creative spark that should add an extra cutting edge to the Ballymena attack overall.
However, following an afternoon in which defensive resolve dominated over attacking intent, Jeffrey had praise for the Northern Ireland international beyond his flair.
“He has fitted in tremendously well, he’s no ‘Big-Time Charlie’, he works for the team and also brings that bit of skill which helps us,” said Jeffrey. “Shay is a fantastic talent and we are very pleased with the fact that our part-time status actually suited him.
“I thought in terms of chances created we should have won the game.
“I was really, really pleased with and cannot fault the effort or commitment of the players and for large parts we were the dominant force but couldn’t turn that into goals.
“So we are disappointed we didn’t take all three points but happy with everything else.
“We kept knocking and knocking on the door but Portadown defended extremely well.
“The chances for us were coming from players coming from behind, midfield players very capable of putting the ball in the back of the net.
“We had to be very wary of Portadown catching us on the break, with Lee Bonis and Adam Salley very capable.
“So we had to be mindful of that and I’m saying to my goalkeeper and three centre-backs today ‘well done’ for the clean sheet.”
Ballymena had the ball in the back of the net across the closing moments but the match officials ruled out Kofi Balmer’s effort for offside.
“I’ve spoken to Kofi and Leroy Millar and Leroy has said he was clearly offside but Kofi, who scored it, wasn’t...but things happen very, very quickly,” said Jeffrey. “If you’re taking one step back and thinking of the game of football, to have defended the way Portadown defended it maybe would have been cruel.”
Jeffrey also reflected on the absence of supporters due to restrictions around the coronavirus pandemic.
“You really do miss the supporters being in and the one blessing is so many games being streamed, so we can enjoy that,” he said. “At Ballymena we go out of our way to make sure we don’t seek to take any advantage by making it more difficult than the day should be (for our opponents) and Portadown today have been absolutely first class.
“It’s about keeping people safe and doing the right thing so I’m in full agreement.
“The fact we are still playing is the big thing.”
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