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Saturday 28th April v. Crusaders (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Wednesday, 12th Oct, 2016 at 23:48

Date: Wednesday, 12th October, 2016; Competition: Northern Ireland League Cup - Round 3; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [2] [4]
Linfield [1] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Raymond Crangle; Assistant 1: Andrew Neeson; Assistant 2: Mark O'Brien; 4th Official: Steven Taylor;
[0-1] CALLACHER, Jimmy (19 mins), [1-1] McMURRAY, Johnny (23 mins), [2-1] FRIEL, Cathair (41 mins), [3-1] McMURRAY, Johnny (60 mins), [4-1] FAULKNER, Willie (73 mins)

BALLYMENA United cruised to a comfortable 4-1 win over Linfield to move into the quarter finals of the Northern Ireland League Cup.
Ballymena United manager David Jeffrey with Linfield manager David Healy
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Ballymena took the game to Linfield straight away, with two good chances in the opening five minutes courtesy of Cathair Friel and Johnny McMurray. A neat run from Friel took him into the box but his shot was stopped by Roy Carroll. Minutes later McMurray also saw an effort saved by the Northern Ireland international. On 19 minutes Linfield took a surprise lead after an error by young debutant keeper, Ben McCauley. Jim Ervin failed to deal with a corner, the ball looped into the air and after McCauley dropped it, Jimmy Callacher tapped home.
Debutant keeper Ben McCauley with club captain Jim Ervin
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Just 4 minutes later United hit back through McMurray. The forward picked the ball up on the right and unleashed a shot past Carroll, from just inside the box, to grab his sixth goal of the season.
Johnny McMurray scored the equaliser for United
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On 30 minutes, McCauley redeemed himself for his earlier error as he made a great save for a corner from a Ross Gaynor effort. 4 minutes from the break United took the lead, courtesy of Friel. The striker carried on after a challenge by Gaynor and sent a long range effort into the top corner as Ballymena took a deserved lead into half time.
Cathair Friel and Willie Faulkner celebrate after Friel put United ahead
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Ballymena came out quickly in the second half with Gary Thompson firing just over and then McMurray having a beautifully curled effort stopped low by Carroll. One of the matches most important moments came on 57 minutes when Linfield went down to 10 men after Gaynor was given a second booking for simulation. It changed the game again as three minutes later McMurray grabbed his second with the goal of the night. McMurray showed great pace to beat the Linfield defence and wonderfully lobbed Carroll from outside the box, as the keeper helplessly watched the ball hit the back of the net.
Players celebrate after McMurray scored his second of the night
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Not long after McMurray could've scored his third but his close range attempt was thwarted by Carroll, and Gary Thompson couldn't connect with the rebound. Ballymena killed off any chance Linfield had of getting back in the game on 73 minutes when a hopeful cross from Ervin was met by Faulkner, who unmarked at the back post, took a touch before dispatching a neat finish home for 4-1.
Linfield should've got their second shortly after but McCauley again saved well, before Thompson made an incredible goal saving tackle inside the six yards to deny Linfield. Ballymena had chances late on for a fifth with Tony Kane and Jim Ervin went close as Linfield looked like a team hoping for the final whistle. Ballymena made late changes, including subbing off Stephen McBride in his first game of the season after a long injury layoff. United looked extremely impressive all game and are safely into the hat for the quarter final draw.
David Jeffrey applauds United support after a fine victory
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After the game manager David Jeffrey said "I thought we played well tonight, I'm delighted with young Ben McCauley who I thought epitomised all that was good about us, ok he made a mistake for the first goal but there's many a young man who would've crumbled and he stood up. I told him tonight that he had ten big brothers around him and my goodness gracious me did the other players look after him and when they weren't there he stood up for himself and he stood up for them. We certainly played well tonight, we worked hard, and I'm very pleased with the result.
Jonathan scored two excellent goals and Cathair scored a superb goal also, but it's not just their goalscoring, they worked so very hard for the team. Then Willie Faulkner, I thought the last goal really showed where the players are at, Jim Ervin who I thought was superb chased the ball when other people would've thought it was going out and put the best ball he could into the box and Willie Faulkner out of what was just a hopeful cross into the box done tremendously well. It is wrong to pick out any individual because that was a true team and collective performance and they did tremendously well.
To be fair to Roy Carroll I don't think he could be faulted for any of the goals, such was the quality, and that says a lot about Cathair and Jonathan and young William. Since the defeat on the opening day at Crusaders they've learnt, they've worked tremendously hard and come Saturday we'll see how far they've gone because there's absolutely no point playing to the levels that they've played this evening and then come Saturday the league, which is our priority then not producing the goods. Certainly we'll enjoy tonight, we're delighted, I'm so pleased for the players that they're through to the next round and then we'll prepare for Saturday."
Ballymena United host champions Crusaders in the Danske Bank Premiership on Saturday, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ben McCauley, Tony Kane, Stephen McBride ( Leroy Millar 90), Kyle Owens ( Johnny Flynn 84), Gary Thompson ( Conor McCloskey 85), Allan Jenkins, Willie Faulkner, Cathair Friel, Jim Ervin, Johnny McMurray ( 42), Caolan Loughran.

Subs not used: Eoin Kane, Matthew Shevlin.