Glenn Ferguson believes Ballymena United can take confidence from their League Cup final display against Cliftonville.
The two sides are due to meet twice more inside the next month, in both the Irish Cup and Danske Bank Premiership.
“We have matched them in certain areas and I’m hoping taht over the course of these games - we have to play them twice in a couple of weeks - that something has got to give and that we would get a wee break in one of them,” said Ferguson.
“If we play the way we did in the second half, we will certainly be able to take the game to them but we have to tighten up defensively and stop giving away silly goals.
““We got off to the worst possible start that we could have imagined,” admitted
“We made it difficult for ourselves but against Cliftonville in the past we have just gave in but I have to give the players credit.
“I had a word with them at half-time and told them that last week at Portadown we came from two goals down three times and got something out of the game.
“The introduction of David Cushley made a difference but it was even earlier than we had hoped.
“We know he’s got that in his locker. One of the boys joked with him in the dressing room and said ‘not a bad goal with your bad foot’. He said ‘I haven’t got a bad foot’.
“That’s the confidence of the lad and once he hits it, it stays hit - I think Peter Cherrie just got it on the way back out.
“When you’re playing a team like Cliftonville and you’re 2-0 down and you get back in the game, we were well on top but it’s then that key decisions change games.
“I’m not gurning or trying to make excuses. I saw a clear photo from a photographer of a Cliftonville player handling the ball in the box, in fact he had both hands around it.
“Why a penalty wasn’t given I don’t know and I’m led to believe that Tony Kane’s corner was over the line as well.
“The mistakes we made defensively, for the first goal in particular, were costly again.
“Tony (Kane) is gutted with the defensive header that he should have put out for a corner for the third goal.
“But I’m proud of them for not caving in and making a game of it in the second half.”
The United boss also defended David Cushley’s challenge on Eamonn Seydak which led to the Cliftonville player being stretchered off in the second half.
“There was no free kick given and the linesman was five yards away. Cush is feisty and sometimes he’ll be late but he certainly doesn’t go out to hurt people.
“Hopefully Eamonn’s OK but David has gone for the ball but it beggars belief that, if it’s a bad challenge, the linesman is five yards away - why not make a decision?
“It’s not a bashing of officials - that decison went for us but certainly some went against us.”