Like virtually everyone at Solitude last night, Barry Gray was left scratching his head at how Cliftonville came away with nothing to show for their efforts against Ballymena United.
The Sky Blues netted twice against the run of play before the Reds, who contested the closing stages with 10 men following an injury sustained by Garry Breen, pulled one back through Jamie Harney.
More than once this season, Gray has bemoaned the fact that his team have waited until falling behind before springing into action – but this was not one of those occasions.
“We had two that hit the crossbar, point-blank saves, one off the line, a possible penalty shout and six minutes added time when there should have been 10-plus!” he reflected.
“We found ourselves 2-0 down and we certainly didn’t deserve to be. We’ve been in that situation many times this season but haven’t created the raft of opportunities that we did before that happened. We could have been 2-0 up after the first 10-12 minutes, never mind anything beyond that.
“It wasn’t one of them games for me, it’s a game where we have to be looking at a glass half-full instead of half-empty and, even when we were down to 10 men for the last 10 minutes, we certainly didn’t look like we were a man short. Everyone gave it a real go, we got a goal back and maybe, if we’d had a few more minutes to play, we could have got something from the game.
“I don’t think there’s much benefit in being negative at this point, but we’re disappointed that we didn’t win. We move on to the next game against Ards on Friday night and we just need to stay focused on what we need to do and the players and everyone associated need to stay positive.”
One negative that cannot be ignored, however, is the injury that saw Breen taken to hospital straight after the game – and Gray is naturally hopeful the 28-year-old will be back in action sooner rather than later.
“Garry has been a captain in disguise for us,” adds the boss.
“He leads on the pitch and off the pitch, he is a big character for us and a big player for us and for me.
“He was in a lot of distress. Hopefully it’s one of those ones that looks worse than it is. There was no impact in it – there wasn’t a hit or anything like that, whatever way he has twisted or turned. Fingers crossed for him and us that it is nothing too serious.”