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

Uploaded Saturday, 4th Feb, 2017 at 18:55

Date: Saturday, 4th February, 2017; Competition: Tennent's Irish Cup - Round 6; Attendance: N/A;
HW Welders [0] [1] AET 1
Ballymena United [0] [1] AET 3
Venue: Tillysburn Park; Kick-Off: 13:30;
Referee: Raymond Crangle; Assistant 1: Andrew Neeson; Assistant 2: George Argyropoulos; 4th Official: Glenn Taylor; Additional Assistant 1: John Ferry;
Goals:
[1-0] RAINEY, David (63 mins), [1-1] BRANIFF, Kevin (74 mins), [1-2] KANE, Tony (112 mins), [1-3] BRANIFF, Kevin (126 mins)

BALLYMENA United needed extra-time to get past Harland & Wolff Welders at Tillysburn Park today.
The game got off to a very sloppy start as both teams struggled with the awkward pitch conditions. The first chance came on 9 minutes when Joe McKinney and Conor McCloskey linked up well, before McCloskey dragged a shot wide of the Welders' goal. 10 minutes later, Ballymena almost led through a calamitous Welders own goal. Defender Gareth McKeown was unaware of 'keeper Sam Johnston's position, and he almost headed the ball straight into his own net, only for Johnston to get a hand on it. Ballymena then continued to press for the opener with more chances. Leroy Millar's pacey low cross agonisingly missed the boot of McKinney before Millar himself had a chance easily saved by Johnston.
Tony Kane came close to putting the visitors ahead when he arrived late into the box to meet a Cathair Friel cross, but he headed wide. Straight after, an injured McKinney was taken off and replaced by Kevin Braniff, who came on to make his Sky Blue debut. With the last play of the half, Kyle Owens saw his back post header cleared off the line by the Welders' defence as the half finished goalless.
The home side started strongly in the second half with Ballymena goalkeeper Ross Glendinning called into action to come out and stop David Rainey from getting a shot away. At the other end, a wonderful Johnston double save denied Ballymena. Having initially dropped the ball from a corner, Johnston made up for his error by stopping first Caolan Loughran, and then Friel, before Millar fired a shot over. From there, chances were extremely limited for both sides until the 63rd minute when the Welders took the lead to set up a potential cup upset. A long throw in wasn't dealt with by the United defence and the ball made its way to Rainey who, untroubled, fired the ball past Glendinning.
David Jeffrey introduced Neil Lowry into the game, but it was the other substitute Braniff who grabbed the leveller. A corner from Millar was headed goalwards by Allan Jenkins and Braniff popped up 4 yards out to score.
3 minutes later Braniff should've scored his second when Lowry found him at the back post, but Braniff somehow headed wide. The Welders almost made United pay the full price one minute later when goalscorer Rainey almost produced a wondergoal from 25 yards out, but his shot flicked off the top of the bar. Friel could've and should've won the game in normal time when Willie Faulkner set him through 1 on 1 with Johnston, but Friel's weak effort was easily gathered, as the game went to extra time.
The first half of extra time was a cagey affair and neither side really created a good chance to go ahead. The Welder's Gary Spence did well to beat Braniff to a Loughran cross and cleared the danger before Braniff could head home. It was Spence who was then involved in the biggest moment of extra time as he received a second yellow card for hacking Friel down 11 minutes into extra time. As if being down to 10 men wasn't enough for the home side, Kane added insult to injury with a trademark set piece to put Ballymena ahead for the first time on the afternoon. His free kick from 20 yards out sailed into the top left corner and left Johnston flat-footed.
Tony Kane put United ahead in the second period of extra-time
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The goal deflated the hosts and Friel almost put the game to bed with five minutes to go when he burst through, but he couldn't find the target. However, were Friel had failed, Braniff didn't when he added the third, and his second. Braniff was played in and his low shot had just enough power to beat the hand of Johnston and roll over the line to see Ballymena into the last eight.
Debutant Kevin Braniff scored the first goal, and the secured the win deep into extra-time
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Ballymena United are back in league action next Saturday when they travel to Seaview to face league leaders Crusaders, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Jim Ervin, Kyle Owens, Caolan Loughran ( 114), Leroy Millar, Willie Faulkner, Tony Kane, Allan Jenkins, Joe McKinney ( Kevin Braniff 42), Cathair Friel, Conor McCloskey ( Neil Lowry 67).