Wakehurst continue encouraging start to league campaign

Kids cannot play on pitch because of dog fouling
Kids cannot play on pitch because of dog fouling
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Wakehurst manager Ian Gregg has called for his players to show more belief in themselves after they continued their encouraging start to the season on Saturday.

After winning at Dollingstown on the opening day of the Belfast Telegraph Championship Two campaign, the Ballymena men made another successful trip to County Armagh on Saturday when they claimed a dramatic 3-2 win at Annagh United.

Andy Laughlin fired a stoppage time winner in a game laden with incident and controversy.

“We were disjointed in the first half and once again we were indebted to our goalkeeper Aodhan Tolan for ensuring that we reached half-time scoreless.

“Aodhan doesn’t turn 16 until October but he has stepped into Championship level football as if he’s been there all his life - he is an exceptional talent.

“There were a few harsh words at half-time and we looked like a different side - we played with more purpose and belief

Conor Gregg fired Wakehurst ahead from the penalty spot after his initial shot had been blocked by the hand of a defender and when George Young rounded the keeper and slotted home, Wakehurst looked to be cruising to victory.

But the local side’s perennial failing of last season returned to haunt them as Annagh scored two goals in quick succession before the home side had their goalkeeper sent off late on for clattering Conor Gregg outside the penalty area.

But with the game seemingly heading for a draw, Wakehurst’s superior fitness told and as they mounted one final attack, Annagh appealed against Conor Gregg, who was returning from an offside position, but Andy Laughlin timed his run from midfield perfectly to stay onside and race clear to slot home the winner.

“Annagh have been tipped by many observers as promotion contenders so it was very satisfying to come away from there with a victory.

“It’s something I always tell our players and also, looking at Ballymena United topping the Premiership table, in this part of the country we don’t seem to believe we can go on and be successful, when in reality, teams from here have as much ability as anywhere else,” added Gregg, who handed a debut to new signing, former Ballymena United left-back Corey Price, who is back playing after a long injury lay-off,

Wakehurst: Tolan, R Young, Stevenson, Colville, Millar, Mellon, Crawford, Laughlin, R Gregg, G Young, C Gregg. Subs: Cairns, Kirkwood, Muir, Price, Swann.