Ballymoney United were unluckily dumped out of the Intermediate Cup on Saturday despite producing their best display of the season.
Manager Paul Gaston was not too despondent after the 2-1 away defeat at Coagh United as his side had put in a top display.
He said: “I’ve never seen us play as well and we got beat. Even their own manager said he could not believe they won the match.
“The disappointing thing is everyone of our players was brilliant on Saturday.
“We lost our keeper and Paul Keane had to do nets and the only thing he had to do was pick out the two goals they got.
“We were against a team at the top of our league and we totally outplayed them in every department.
“It just shows how much we have come on.”
Coagh’s goalkeeper Johnny Yorke was the difference between the two sides in the hard-fought cup match.
The game got off to a slow start, partly because of a bad injury received by Coagh’s Glen Clarke in the first minute of the game who had to be replaced by Dale Noble.
In the first ten minutes there was very few chances and then Ballymoney started to dominate.
In the 13th minute Mark Gillan cut in from the left and squared the ball across the goal for Liam Kearney to side foot an effort which was well saved by Yorke.
The soft pitch conditions wasn’t suiting either team but on 21 minutes a cross from Kearney was met by Ian Christie with again Yorke making a superb save.
Ballymoney were playing some nice neat football and on 24 minutes a one-two between Keane and Christie resulted in another fine save from Yorke.
A few minutes later McClelland cut into the box and passed to Keane who had a well-hit shot superbly saved by the keeper.
Coagh’s first real chance came on 31 minutes when Aaron Campbell dribbled past a couple of defenders only to shoot high over the bar.
A turning point in the game was on 42 minutes when Ballymoney keeper Bryan Moore received a back injury and had to be replaced by outfield player Keane in goals with new signing Benny McGarry coming on. On the stroke of half time McClelland’s through ball was latched on to by Mark Gillan with Yorke excelling himself again.
In the second half totally against the run of play on 50 minutes Mark Scott opened the scoring for Coagh with a good header into the bottom of the net.
This appeared to spark some life into Coagh and five minutes later they nearly scored again but Keane managed to cut out the through ball before the striker reached it.
In the next 5 minutes Ballymoney had two chances to equalise, both coming from the impressive McGarry, one blazed over the bar and the other cleared off the line by the Coagh defender.
Then on 65 minutes Aaron Campbell sealed the game for Coagh with a shot in the box after a cross from the left that fell nicely to him.
Ballymoney continued to press and on 77 minutes good work from Kearney on the right saw him square the ball to Christie but once again Yorke in the Coagh goals was equal to the effort. The game started to fizzle out however in injury time substitute Fleming scored a consolation goal for Ballymoney with a well hit shot from just inside the box.
Ballymoney are again in action tonight (Wednesday) when they play a Coleraine FC select side at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre.
Gaston was asked by Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney to play the friendly which will be used to give fringe players and others returning from injury a run out.
United’s new signings McGarry, from Dunloy FC, ex-Rasharkin United player Nathan Patton and Stephen Lyons are expected to play.
On Saturday Ballymoney are away to the PSNI, with both sides sitting on 19 points in the Championship Two. United sit one place above their opponents in 11th place and will look for a win ahead of the Irish Cup clash with Newry at home on 11 February.
Match report: Gerry Keane