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Monday 8th May v. Dungannon Swifts (home) - Europa League Play-Off SF - k.o: 8:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 20th Aug, 2016 at 17:38

Date: Saturday, 20th August, 2016; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 795;
Ballymena United [2] [3]
Ards [3] [4]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Ian McNabb; Assistant 1: Stephen Donaldson; Assistant 2: Paul Berry; 4th Official: Andrew Davey;
Goals:
[0-1] McMULLAN, Stuart (5 mins), [1-1] JENKINS, Allan (13 mins), [2-1] FRIEL, Cathair (24 mins), [2-2] FRIARS, Emmet (30 mins), [2-3] McKINNEY, Joe (43 mins), [3-3] LOUGHRAN, Caolan (53 mins), [3-4] TOMMONS, Gareth (89 mins)

BALLYMENA United failed to build on their first Danske Bank Premiership win of the season as they suffered a 4-3 defeat at home to Ards today.
After keeping their first clean sheet of the campaign at Ballinamallard seven days ago, United's defensive frailties were once again exposed by Niall Currie's side in an entertaining game at the Showgrounds.
It means the Sky Blues have now conceded 13 goals in their opening four league games after Gareth Tommons' late winner for the visitors.
Ballymena's hopes of following up their win last week suffered an early blow when they fell behind inside the opening five minutes. Johnny Flynn brought down Joe McKinney on the edge of the penalty area and when Davy McAllister clipped the resultant free kick into the box, defender Stuart McMullan somehow found enough space to plant a diving header past Glendinning.
Ballymena's response was almost instant as Tony Kane's free kick from the right was flicked on by the imposing figure of Kyle Owens but Leroy Millar's powerful header was brilliantly turned over by Ards keeper Aaron Hogg. Millar had another headed opening just minutes later when he met a Tony Kane corner unmarked but couldn't keep the effort down. But Ballymena levelled on 13 minutes when a cross from the right was headed clear by McMullan but dropped only as far as the edge of the penalty area where Allan Jenkins arrived to meet the dropping ball with a left-foot volley into the bottom corner.
The first United goal went to Allan Jenkins
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Ards almost went back in front on 17 minutes when David McAllister's curling free kick had to be tipped over by a back-pedalling Ross Glendinning. The Ballymena keeper also played an important part in preventing the visitors from regaining the lead on 22 minutes when McMullan's ball forward sent Guillaume Keke racing clear. The striker took a good first touch and his shot took the slightest of deflections off the inside of Glendinning's leg before clipping the near post. The ball then spun across the face of goal before dropping centimetres wide of the far post. Ballymena almost grabbed the lead on 24 minutes from a remarkable goalmouth scramble. It started when Neil Lowry cut inside from the left and his fierce shot was beaten away by Hogg. The ball eventually fell to Jenkins who took a touch but although his shot beat Hogg through a crowd of players, the ball stayed out thanks to a brilliant full-stretch block by Emmett Friars, while Gary Thompson's follow-up effort was also blocked.
A minute later, however, United were ahead as from a move down the right had side and when the ball came to Jenkins, he played a neat cushioned pass into the path of Cathair Friel who slammed a shot past the exposed Hogg, with the Ards keeper's appeals for offside falling on deaf ears.
Cathair Friel put United ahead in the 26th minute
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Again Ards came back and restored parity on 29 minutes with a virtual carbon copy of their first goal, this time Emmet Friars arriving to head home from McAllister's free kick. As the chances continued to flow at both ends, Ballymena came close on 35 minutes when the woodwork denied the home side. Friel made the opening when he cut the ball back from the left but Leroy Millar's fierce shot crashed off the underside of the bar before being cleared. And Ards' good fortune extended to the other end of the pitch as they went in front in fortuitous fashion on 42 minutes. As the ball ran loose inside the Ballymena penalty area, left-back Danny Wallace made a perfectly-executed slide tackle on Joe McKinney but the ball ricocheted off the Ards player's knee and lopped over the helpless Glendinning and into the net.
Ballymena boss David Jeffrey made two changes at the break, with Caolan Loughran and Johnny McMurray introduced in place of Johnny Flynn and Neil Lowry. And it was Loughran who produced Ballymena's equaliser on 53 minutes. The architect of the goal was an unlikely one as centre-back Kyle Owens, up in attack, somehow made a yard to produce an excellent cross from the left flank which was met by a looping header by Loughran into the far corner.
The second half failed to reach the high standards of the opening 45 minutes but Kyle Owens came close to putting Ballymena back in front on 65 minutes but his thundering header from a Kane corner was headed off the line at the far post by Kyle Cherry. But just as the game appeared to be petering out into a stalemate, Ards struck the decisive blow in the 88th minute. A corner was worked back to McAllister who crossed with the outside of his foot with substitute Gareth Tommons diverting the ball past Glendinning a goal which was enough to send the County Down side to the top of the league table.
Ballymena United continue their Danske Bank Premiership campaign this Friday night when they travel to the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena to face Carrick Rangers, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Stephen Alexander
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Kyle Owens, Johnny Flynn ( Caolan Loughran 46), Gary Thompson ( 64 Conor McCloskey 76), Allan Jenkins, Cathair Friel, Danny Wallace ( 72), Neil Lowry ( Johnny McMurray 46), Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar ( 62).

Subs not used: Alan Blayney, Willie Faulkner.