21 SEP 2017
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Another defeat as ’Point fail to build on early lead

13 September 2017 - by By Gareth McCullough

Warrenpoint Town manager Matthew Tipton expressed his disappointment that his side didn’t go in and impose themselves on Saturday’s clash with Ballymena United at Milltown after taking the lead inside the first minute.  

Martin Murray gave the hosts the lead with only 25 seconds on the clock, but once David Jeffrey’s visitors levelled after 18 minutes, there only truly looked like there would be one winner and it wasn’t Tipton’s charges. 

After Cathair Friel’s leveler, former Newry defender Emmett Friars gave the Braidmen the lead on the hour before Friel ensured all three points would be travelling north with his second and his team’s third 10 minutes from time. 

“We didn’t go and chase the game. That’s the most disappointing thing. We go 2-1 down and we didn’t do anything, we didn’t show any spark,” bemoaned Tipton. 

“Ultimately, I’m disappointed because we’ve lost a game again. I didn’t think they were miles better than us. They just wanted it more.

“Every week we‘ve been saying that if we get the first goal we’ll run over the top of teams. We scored the early goal and put them under a wee bit of pressure and then it was like a balloon being deflated. That was how our players looked. We had no energy, no enthusiasm, no desire or commitment.”

Warrenpoint got off to the best possible start with that goal inside 25 seconds, as the Ballymena defence were caught cold almost straight from kick-off.

Striker Stephen Murray, in for the suspended Darren Murray, threaded the ball through to Martin Murray and the former Cliftonville man kept his cool to slot home from inside the box past Connor Brennan.

It was a dream start for Tipton’s men, but it was Ballymena who then began to put the pressure on in their search for an equaliser. Having already served warning of what was to come with a number of threatening deliveries into the Warrenpoint box, Jeffrey’s side drew level on 18 minutes.

Tony Kane’s cross from the left was met by the head of Friel 10 yards out and he glanced the ball over Town keeper Jonny Parr and into the right and corner of the net.

Although there were no further goals in the opening half, it was the Braidmen who looked the more likely to go in front from set-pieces with Kyle Owens going close with headers on two occasions.

Warrenpoint weren’t helped when they lost captain Stephen Moan from the heart of the defence with a hamstring tweak that could see him miss out for Saturday’s trip to Dungannon Swifts. 

A minute after the hour mark, the away side did take the lead for the first time when Stephen McCullough’s corner was headed in by Friars, who was unmarked at the back post, as he scored his second goal in as many games.

Five minutes later, it was almost 3-1 when Conor McCloskey let fly with a shot from 25 yards out that took a nick off Sean Mackle before smacking the top of the crossbar with Parr struggling to get to it.

Warrenpoint rarely threatened, but in the last 15 minutes they did begin to exert some pressure and most of the ground thought Sean Mackle had scored from a 25-yard free-kick on the left only for the ball to whistle past the left post with Brennan at full stretch.

The result was then put beyond doubt with 10 minutes remaining when Friel got his second and Ballymena’s third of the afternoon when he volleyed in at the near post following Kevin Braniff’s cross from the left.

“I brought two young kids out of the team in Lorcan [Forde] and Liam [McKenna] thinking I would give them a rest and we’ll go with more experience in the team. I won’t be making that mistake again. It went against everything I believe in,” said Tipton, whose introduction of the two teenagers in the second period seemed to spark some sort of life into his side, although they were unable to force a way through for their second goal. 

 “We were better than Glentoran last week, but we’re getting beaten. So that says to me that we have footballing ability but is the mental ability there? Are they capable of winning games at this level and at the minute, they’re proving that they aren’t,” he admitted. 

“It has to turn round. We’ll rectify that and work on it and take what we can from the game to try and fix the problems that were there today.”   

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