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

Uploaded Saturday, 28th Jan, 2017 at 19:38

Date: Saturday, 28th January, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 955;
Ballymena United [1] [3]
Carrick Rangers [0] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Steven Taylor; Assistant 1: Gareth Eakin; Assistant 2: Adrian Sobieski; 4th Official: Shane Andrews;
[1-0] FRIEL, Cathair (8 mins), [1-1] McNALLY, Paddy (54 mins), [2-1] FRIEL, Cathair (88 mins), [3-1] McMURRAY, Johnny (90 mins)

BALLYMENA United scored twice late on to grab a 3-1 victory over Carrick Rangers at the Showgrounds.
Ballymena came out of the blocks quickly at the start of the game with a flurry of chances. A corner from Tony Kane in the game's first play was headed into the six yard box by Johnny Flynn towards Kyle Owens, but the defender could only head over. Minutes later Johnny McMurray found himself in a good shooting opportunity, but Carrick 'keeper Brian Neeson got down well to stop the shot.
With 8 minutes on the clock, the Sky Blues took the lead through Cathair Friel. Joe McKinney did well on the left hand side to break free and he fired a low ball across goal to Friel at the back post, who easily netted for his 13th league goal of the season.
Joe McKinney broke free and fired a low ball across the box to Cathair Friel
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Cathair Friel opened the scoring with his 13th league goal of the season
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Friel was presented with a great opportunity shortly after to double his tally for the day when the ball was cleared only as far as Friel who was 10 yards out, but he fired his volley well over. The away side's first real chance came on 25 minutes. A dangerous corner came to Daniel Kelly with a free header, but he saw his effort deflected over for another corner, which came to nothing.
Ballymena then missed more chances at the end of the half. First a Kane free kick was knocked down by Owens to McKinney, who found himself unmarked, but Neeson made the save. Shortly after, Kane set Conor McCloskey free, but his shot was well kept out by a one handed Neeson save. The rebound fell to Leroy Millar, but Paddy McNally did enough to put him off.
Joe McKinney was in great form again, passing this Carrick player with ease
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Tony Kane chasing down the ball with Steven McCullough
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The second half couldn't have started more differently to the first as Carrick came out the brighter of the sides. Sean Noble found himself free at the back post and managed to get a shot away but Ross Glendinning made a great stop before Leroy Millar eventually cleared on the line.
Despite Ballymena struggling to get a hold on the half, captain Jim Ervin went close on 51 minutes when he ran onto a loose ball, but his shot from outside the box went just wide. Ballymena were made to pay for their missed first half chances on 53 minutes when Carrick levelled. A corner was met by former United player McNally and he came back to haunt his former employers as he headed home past Glendinning.
Inside the final 20 minutes Ballymena pushed again to find their second goal. A good run from substitute Neil Lowry ended with a cross to McMurray, but he headed the great chance wide. McMurray then saw the ball fall nicely for him inside the box and he found himself one on one with Neeson, but the 'keeper came out on top. Ballymena finally regained the lead in the 87th minute when Friel grabbed his second of the game. A game of ping- pong developed in the box before the ball eventually came to Friel, who fired low and hard to score despite Neeson's best efforts.
The goal broke Carrick's resistance completely as Ballymena went on to score a third in added time. Lowry did well again on the right hand side to get to the by-line and his cutback was parried by Neeson to McMurray who bundled the ball over the line to give Ballymena victory in the dress rehearsal ahead of the League Cup final.
Johnny McMurray turns after scoring the third goal of the game
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Tony Kane congratulates McMurray after securing the win
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Ballymena United travel to Tillysburn Park to face Harland & Wolff Welders in the 6th round of the Tennent's Irish Cup next Saturday, kicking off at 1:30pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Kyle Owens, Johnny Flynn, Allan Jenkins, Conor McCloskey ( 25 Neil Lowry 78), Cathair Friel, Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar, Joe McKinney ( Willie Faulkner 69), Johnny McMurray.

Subs not used: Eoin Kane, Danny Wallace, Tim Allen.