BY NEIL McKNIGHT
Paul Gaston continued his fantastic start as Ballymoney United manager with a five-star performance at the weekend.
It’s now three wins from three games for the former Coleraine hero and his short managerial reign got even better on Saturday with a 5-0 thrashing of Armagh City.
A tactical masterstroke from Gaston and the advantage of playing with the breeze saw his young side blow away the visitors at the Riada Stadium after the interval.
United started the game well but were lucky to avoid going behind after Armagh struck the crossbar.
The local side held their own against the strong wind in the first half and managed to create some good opportunities.
The first 45 minutes ended goalless but a switch to three upfront quickly brought its rewards.
On 50 minutes playmaker Trevor McLernon struck for the opening goal.
He was playing in the hole behind Mark Gillan and Paul Keane who had been moved forward from midfield.
The 18-year-old grabbed the second and fifth goals, while Liam Kearney and Mark Gillan added their names to the scoresheet.
Gaston praised the outstanding efforts of all his players but singled out his front three for special praise.
“I’ve got a great squad of players. Mark Gillan was excellent upfront, I’m glad I’m not playing anymore as he’s a real menace. He never stops.
“Trevor has a great knowledge of the game, has a great touch and vision, always sees things.
“Everyone is playing great. Paul Keane has a bright future.”
As well as being delighted with the goals return, Gaston was equally impressed with a second clean sheet.
“If you don’t concede goals you don’t lose matches,” he said.
“It’s been an unbelievable start. Like I say, winning breeds confidence, it becomes a habit, everything seems to be going so well.”
He added: “In the second half I told the players to be patient, don’t overhit it [with the breeze] and the goals will come. I thought we’d get two or three but didn’t expect five. But that’s football, everything we hit went in.
“Armagh hit the crossbar in the first half, it could have been different.
“But we’ll take that bit of luck and the confidence.
“In the end we could have won by more than five.
Gaston also highlighted the superb performance by Chris Getty who replaced injured captain Gareth Hill at centre-half and Mark McCann who filled the central midfield role of Kirk Brace who now lives in Australia.
The sensational win puts United in confident mood for this weekend’s trip to table-toppers Coagh United.
And Gaston believes his young team - Liam Kearney was oldest the player on Saturday aged just 30 - can gun down the leaders.
He watched the opposition two weeks ago and is confident of victory.
“Everyone is beatable. If we play to our best we are in with a good shout,” he said.
“You just have to beat the teams put in front of you.
“They are the leaders and they are there to be got at.”
Gaston, who will welcome back Gerald Gillan at training tonight, added: “Everything is going well, you just never know where it can take you. It’s a big test and we are all looking forward to it.
“The players have to be up for it, they know if they win they will only be seven points behind them.”