BALLYMONEY BATTLE FOR LEAGUE SURVIVAL GIVEN BOOST WITH WIN

Cairns and McCaw.INBM14-15 082SC.
Cairns and McCaw.INBM14-15 082SC.

It was a long time coming, however Saturday finally brought Ballymoney United’s first clean sheet and first win of the season, giving Manager Peter Cairns a much needed boost.

As the club battle to survive in Championship 2 the three points picked up against Coagh in the 3-0 win could prove to be vital.

Coagh piled on the pressure at the start with a strong wind in their backs but found the home defence were up for the challenge. The visitors kept pressing and a speculative effort from Gates spun just over on 15 minutes.

Ballymoney continued to claw their way into the game and were rewarded on 25 minutes when Stewart found the net after Coagh failed to clear a Ballymoney free kick. The home team held the edge at this stage and came close after Stewart put McVicker in on goal but his effort was just wide. A nervous few minutes on 40 minutes saw the visitors pile on the pressure with a succession of corner kicks but the home team managed to keep the attacks at bay.

Ballymoney had a good effort on 43 minutes when McKenna put through McVicker again just wide.

Ballymoney were denied when a great ball in by McKenna found Stewart whose effort was blocked by Forest on 52 minutes.

The home team continued to press and scored in the 56th minute when Brown overlapped down the right and squared back to McKenna who made no mistake from 10 yards out.

Ballymoney went further ahead in the 79th minute when a McKenna free kick took a deflection of Gaston wide of Hasson in the Coagh goal.

Manager Cairns was delighted with the victory. “Saturday was a must win game in every sense of the word. There was a lot of pressure on everyone and they did the job. The lads have been playing well and the win has been coming and to be honest we should have had three or four more goals.

“That’s the first clean sheet and the first win of the season for us and you could see it gave the players the belief and confidence they have been lacking.

“I am still positive that our last three fixtures are winable whereas Coagh have four tough games against Newington, Dollingston and Glebe. There are just three points between us and Saturday’s win was the boost the players needed going into this final run of matches. There’s still a long way and a lot of work to be done, but the win has given us a fighting chance.

“On Saturday we play Tobermore at home and that will be a hard game. Their results have been very erratic so you just don’t know what team will show up.

“Thankfully we didn’t pick up any injuries on Saturday and we have the suspensions over us. I had been missing a couple of players through work commitments but I will have a good strong squad. It makes all the difference when you go into a game with a good squad and it gives the players a boost too.

“I had a quality bench on Saturday and that helps me and the players, it creates a feel good factor for everyone. I know Saturday’s win was a small portion of what’s needed, we still have a job to do.”