With Comrades boss Eddie Hill attending his brother’s wedding on Saturday, player-coach Stuart McClean was left in charge of the Intermediate Cup clash against Armagh.
And the experienced midfielder said Armagh’s quick response after the interval knocked the stuffing out of Ballyclare who were already down to 10 men after Chris Getty was given his marching orders.
“Too many of our players had an off-day - perhaps it was a hangover following the cup defeat by Crusaders,” said McClean.
“Once again we had to play for an hour with only 10 men, and Armagh took full advantage.
“We didn’t underestimate them following their heroics against Ards and Glentoran in the Irish Cup, but that goal immediately after the break was the killer punch.
“At half-time I stressed the need to contain them for 20 minutes, before giving it a go, but the quick third goal left that plan in tatters,” he admitted.
Asked about the hectic league programme ahead, he replied: “We have played 15 cup ties this season, so that leaves us with a backlog of fixtures, but we have strength in depth in our squad.”