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Saturday 22nd February v. Cliftonville (away) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

ODENSE BK (Denmark) [2004/2005 - UEFA Intertoto Cup First Round]
Overview | First Leg | Second Leg | "I Was There"

AFTER the fairytale of the first leg came a cold, hard dose of reality for Ballymena United.
The heroics of six days earlier, when the Sky Blues had held Odense BK to a famous scoreless draw, seemed a million miles away as the Danes cantered victory in front of an appreciative Showgrounds audience in Saturday's second leg.
There were shades of last season's Irish League Intertoto representitives Omagh Town, who gained a creditable result in their away tie in Belarus only to be hit by seven back on home soil.
On reflection, a 7-0 aggregate scoreline gives an accurate assessment of the difference in quality between United and their full-time opponents over the two games. But the fact that all seven goals came in one match will be viewed as a disapointment by Ballymena - one of very few minuses in an unforgettable European adventure.
To be frank, lesser teams than Odense would have profited from Ballymena's defensive carelessness on Saturday, as a repeat of the stubborn rearguard action of six days earler never materialised.
United boss Kenny Shiels admitted that the severity of the scoreline put last week's heroics into context, noting: "It simply illustrated how well we did out there last weekend.
"Odense were first to every ball and they just carved us open - you could see the energy draining from our players.
"The scoreline actually surprised me because tactically, I felt we were fine - in the first half we onlt afforded them the balls in areas where it didn't hurt us.
"Our plan was to get to half-time scoreless and take it from there but that was scuppered because we didn't defend two corners properly.
"It's probably a bit strong to talk about woeful defending because Odense's players simply use their strength, fitness and power to get the ball ahead of ours. It's easy to forget that our players are out doing their daily jobs, Odense's players are training and it makes a massive difference.
"Psychologically, goals also make a big difference. When we were conceding goals today, heads went down wheras last week it seemed there was no way the players were going to let one in," added Kenny.
Ballymena had certainly held their own during the opening 20 minutes with the game, strangely, having the feel of a pre-season training match rather than a competitive European fixture.
Even when the Danes took a 25th minute lead, Mwape Miti's close-range effort - after Ballymena goalkeeper Robert Robinson had failed to hold a Jacob Gregersen geader - was greeted with only a minimum of celebration by the visiting players.
United suffered a hammer blow on 33 minutes when John O'Loughlin's scuffed effort at clearing Martin Borre's cross was punished in clinical fashion by Steffen Højer, who beat Robinson from eight yards.
Ballymena were by no means out of the game with Gareth McLaughlin's cross being headed out from under his own crossbar by Fernando Derveld and from the succession of corners which followed, United skipper Gary Smyth had two headers cleared from threatening positions, while right on half-time, Smyth's central defensive partner Gordon Simms might feel he should have done better than head another Scates corner wide.
Despite continuing that bright form at the start of the second period, Ballymena conceded a third on 53 minutes - again a goal which might have been avoided. As the Sky Blues dallied at a corner, Esben Hansen played the ball short to Borre and his cross was easily headed home by the unchallenged Højer.
The defensive comedy of errors continued with the fourth goal on 67 minutes. Joe Gray - on the field as a substitute for just five minutes - saw his attempted 40-yard headed backpass fall short by about half that distance and then Ciaran Donaghy's cushioned backpass met the same fate allowing Miti to stroll through and almost apologetically roll the ball past Robinson.
The best moment of the game, however, came on 76 minutes when Danish sub Kenneth Moller Pederson collected the ball 30 yards from goal, took two steps forward and unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot which rocketed past Robinson - a goal which is unlikely to be bettered at the Showgrounds this season and which was met with a warm ovation by the entire grandstand.
With Ballymena now out on their feet, Odense continued to press forward and Borre brought the tally to six when he held off the challenge of Donaghy before neatly curling a shot around Robinson with the outside of his right boot.
Fittingly, the final word went to the oustanding Miti with two minutes left when a mesmerising piece of skill on the edge of the Ballymena penalty area left both Smyth and Albert Watson grounded and he carried on to blast a seventh goal past the helpless Robinson.
The generous applause at the final whistle was aimed not just at the Danes but also as a reward for Ballymena's efforts both over the two games and in the weeks leading up to them as United's players had sacrificed their summer break to prepare for their European expedition..
Next time United emerge at the Showgrounds they will have a more substantial panel to choose from. Ballymena supporters will be hoping the good times have only just begun.
Report by Stephen Alexander - Ballymena Times - 29/06/2004

Date: Saturday, 26th June, 2004
Competition: UEFA Intertoto Cup First Round Second Leg
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 2,107
Final Score: Ballymena United 0-7 Odense BK
Ballymena United: Robert Robinson, John O'Loughlin (sub Nigel Boyd 61), Ciaran Donaghy, Gordon Simms (sub Joe Gray 61), Albert Watson, Gary Smyth, Garth Scates, Oran Kearney, Shea Campbell, Gareth McLaughlin, Ruari McClean (sub Johnny Montgomery 80). Subs (not used): William McFrederick, Gerard McCabe, Dominic Melly.
Goals: None
Odense BK: Arek Onyszko, Steen Nedergaard, Fernando Derveld (sub Chris Sørensen 69), Jan Sønksen, Mwape Miti, Søren Berg (sub Kenneth Møller Pederson 69), Andrew Tembo, Jacob Gregersen (sub Ulrich Vinzents 46), Esben Hansen, Martin Borre, Steffen Højer. Subs (not used): Carsten Hemmingsen, Martin Jensen, Michael Larsen.
Goals: Miti ('24, '62, '88), Højer ('36, '55), Pedersen ('80), Borre ('82)
Referee: Egil Mar Markusson (Iceland)