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Tuesday 23rd April v. Glenavon (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 7:45pm

Crusaders Match Preview
Uploaded Thursday, 10th Aug, 2017 at 13:07

BALLYMENA United get their 2017/18 Danske Bank Premiership campaign off with a home tie against Crusaders.
The last time the teams met was in April when United, who were on their way to securing home ties in both Europa League Play-Off ties, ran out 3-0 winners thanks to goals from Conor McCloskey and Cathair Friel (2).
Cathair Friel, who scored the last goal of the game in April, is in there somewhere
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Recent results v Crusaders (all league unless stated):
Ballymena United 3-0 Crusaders, Ballymena Showgrounds, 22nd April 201. Att: 1644
Crusaders 2-1 Ballymena United, Seaview, 11th February 2017. Att: 1294
Ballymena United 2-1 Crusaders, Ballymena Showgrounds, 15th October 2016. Att: 1490
Crusaders 6-0 Ballymena United, Seaview, 6th August 2016. Att: 1479
At one point last season, the Crues looked nailed on to win the Danske Bank Premiership title for the third season in a row, but a superb run from Linfield seen them overtake the North Belfast side towards the end of the campaign and secure the title for the first time since the 2011/12 season.

Their second place finish secured a spot in the first round of Europa League Qualifiers where they won 3-1 at home to FK Leipaja but the crucial away goal was their downfall as they lost 2-0 in Latvia.
Ballymena United:
The Sky Blues secured their highest place in the top flight since 1981, grabbing 4th thanks to two tough wins over Cliftonville and Crusaders and a draw on the last day of the season in Coleraine. It was also the first time United had won the Northern Ireland League Cup since it's inception, defeating Carrick Rangers 2-0 in the final at Seaview thanks to goals from Allan Jenkins and Conor McCloskey.
Captain Jim Ervin lifts the Northern Ireland League Cup to the delight of his team mates
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Finishing 4th in the league and winning both Europa League Play Off ties led to the Braidmen making a trip into Europe for the first time since 2004. A large group of supporters made the journey to Norway for the first leg against Odds Ballklubb and there was a great atmosphere in and around Skien town centre before the game. Unfortunately the match got off to the worst start possible with Odds taking the lead in the first minute and going on to score two more goals, one in the dying seconds.
Ballymena United fans ahead of the game in Skien
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The home tie was a much tighter affair, with plenty of chances for both sides but no end product and it was 0-0 at half time. It took an unfortunate deflection from a 79th minute corner and off the head of Leroy Millar, surrounded by a sea of players in the six-yard box, to give the Norwegians the lead on the night. With just 2 minutes to go substitute Riku Riski beat the offside trap and played Odds captain Steffen Hagen in to double the lead. Despite the aggregate 5-0 defeat, manager David Jeffrey was tremendously proud of his players and told them he expected the same work rate as we go into the 2017/18 season.
Manager David Jeffrey applauds the Ballymena United supporters after the home leg at Seaview
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Odds BK supporters celebrate victory and a place in the Europa League Second Qualifying Round
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Away Fans Transport:
Ballymena United FC and Translink are delighted to promote a new partnership that will see special offers for away supporters travelling to selected games at the Showgrounds this season. The first match that will see this special offer is this Friday 11th August for Crusaders supporters.

Click here for more details
Match Officials:
Referee: Keith Kennedy. Assistant 1: Stephen Donaldson. Assistant 2: Kristian Hanna. 4th Official: Ken Gibbons.
Match Information:
Admission is payable at the gate.

We'd like to remind supporters from both sides that, as part of a league wide increase in admission prices, Adults will be admitted for £11 and concessions for £7.

Kick off is 7:45pm.
Can United get their Danske Bank Premiership campaign off to a bright start under the Friday night lights at the Showgrounds? Make your way to the game and be loud and proud in your support of the lads as they try to hit the ground running - Come On Sky Blues!
Match Preview by Paul Irwin