Opinion: Upward momentum provides welcome boost for United

Ballymena United's players celebrate Kyle McVey's goal against Dungannon Swifts on Saturday. Picture: Press Eye.
Ballymena United's players celebrate Kyle McVey's goal against Dungannon Swifts on Saturday. Picture: Press Eye.

It’s remarkable how big an impact the concept of momentum - in either direction - can have when it comes to footballing matters.

Think back to those awful last few games prior to Glenn Ferguson’s departure from Ballymena United, when the Sky Blues simply couldn’t buy a result or a decent performance.

Contrast that with the upturn in fortunes of a rejuvenated United under David Jeffrey and it’s remarkable to see what a different artist has been able to mould from the same raw materials.

I wouldn’t class myself as an amateur psychologist by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve often wondered when I see this scenario unfold at various clubs, both locally and further afield - are footballers so mentally fragile that they can go in some cases from barely able to put their boots on the right feet to becoming virtual world-beaters, all in the space of a few weeks under a new leader?

Mid-season managerial changes can be notoriously tricky but Ballymena United’s officials can congratulate themselves on their decision to make the change they did.

After a season wracked with in-fighting between different factions of the same support base, how refreshing it is that Ballymena’s season is coming to an end with supporters singing, if not from the same hymnsheet, then at least from the same songbook.

Thankfully the only ‘split’ up for discussion around the Showgrounds at present is the one in the league table and David Jeffrey deserves enormous credit for what he has managed to achieve not only on the pitch, but off it as well.

To see the smiles on Ballymena fans’ faces as they lapped up the remarkable opening 35 minutes of Saturday’s week was refreshing.

United supporters are revelling in seeing their team produce some tremendous football - Tony Kane’s cross for Johnny Frazer to head home the fourth goal was the best centre I have seen from a Ballymena player since Neal Gawley planted one directly onto the forehead of Matthew Tipton’s full-length dive for a goal at the same venue last season.

One more win at Carrick this Saturday would remove the last lingering spectre of relegation and allow Jeffrey to focus on a target he has consigned very firmly to the bottom of his list of priorities - that of attempting to secure a European place via the new play-offs that looked impossible not that long ago.