Ballymena pitch is 'baffling and frustrating' for players - Jonny Addis

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Ballymena pitch's is again proving a problem this season despite the £250,000 investment in the surface last summer

Jonny Addis has described the problems with Ballymena United's pitch as "baffling and frustrating".

The Sky Blues' 4-1 win over Ards on Saturday only went ahead after a lengthy pitch inspection amidst heavy rain ahead of kick-off.

A new surface was laid at the venue in the summer but boss David Jeffrey has voiced concerns about its condition.

The Mid and East Antrim Council says it is working to repair the damage caused by snow and heavy rainfall.

"The pitch is a leveller," Addis told BBC Sport NI's Irish League Show.

"We have rightly received plaudits for our style of football this season but the pitch is just making that more difficult.

"The weather has not been that bad so it has been baffling and frustrating for us as players."

The match at Ballymena was the only fixture in the top two divisions which required a pitch inspection on Saturday while, in December, the County Antrim Shield semi-final between United and Linfield was postponed on two occasions because of a waterlogged pitch.

Ballymena's win over Ards took them back to within three points of leaders Linfield
Ballymena's win over Ards took them back to within three points of leaders Linfield

The Ballymena Showgrounds are owned by Mid and East Antrim Council, which invested £250,000 in the new pitch, with Jeffrey's side not playing their first home match there this season until October.

A spokesperson for the council told BBC Sport NI: "The main purpose of the major works at Ballymena Showgrounds was to bring the pitch up to European standards.

"A Uefa inspection took place just recently and we are awaiting official confirmation on achieving European status for the venue.

"Some areas of the surface have been adversely affected following a busy fixture programme, combined with the impact of snow and prolonged and heavy downpours in recent days.

"We are working to address these matters and a maintenance plan is in place to ensure a high quality playing surface at Ballymena Showgrounds."

United sit second in the Irish Premiership table, three points behind the Blues, and are set to play more home games in the remainder of the campaign than their fellow title challengers.

"We have all these games to play at home at the end of the season and that should be an advantage, but it's not and that's frustrating," Addis continued.

"I don't think anyone has any answers, at least I certainly haven't heard any. I'm not sure who is responsible - it is what it is and we'll just have to get on with it.

"The pitch didn't look great on Saturday and I was surprised the match went ahead."

The County Antrim Shield final between Linfield and Crusaders is scheduled to take place at the Ballymena Showgrounds on 5 February.

This week's Irish League Show is available on the BBC iPlayer.

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