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Saturday 7th July v. HW Welders (away) - Friendly - k.o: TBC

Uploaded Saturday, 25th Feb, 2017 at 17:10

Date: Saturday, 25th February, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 326;
Ballinamallard United [1] [1]
Ballymena United [1] [2]
Venue: Ferney Park; Kick-Off: 15:00;
[1-0] McGINTY, Shane (11 mins), [1-1] McMURRAY, Johnny (16 mins), [1-2] McCLOSKEY, Conor (60 mins)

BALLYMENA United came back from a goal deficit to claim a vital win over Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park this afternoon.
The first chance of the game for the visitors fell to Leroy Millar after just 4 minutes when he intercepted the ball inside the box, but he was unable to capitalise on it. Allan Jenkins was next up as he took the ball round 'keeper Richard Brush but his shot was superbly blocked on the line by Mallards centre half Ryan Morris. In the 10th minute Willie Faulkner pulled the ball back for McCloskey but he fired just wide of the post. Within a minute Ballinamallard had scored at the other end, a fantastic 25-yard strike by Shane McGinty putting the home side ahead.
It took just 5 minutes for Ballymena to get back into the game, Johnny McMurray with a lovely low shot in the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Johnny McMurray scored the equaliser 5 minutes after the Mallards had taken the lead
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Leroy Millar had a chance to put the Braidmen ahead on 20 minutes, his long range shot going wide. Moments later Jim Ervin thought he had scored ahead as his shot took a wicked deflection and looked very close to crossing the line, but the linesman judged that Ryan Morris had got to the ball in time. A gritty battle ensued as both sides tried to get the goal that would put them ahead but, with a volley from Faulkner going just over the bar in the 36th minute, and Ervin blocking a certain goal from Johnny Lafferty on the stroke of half-time. The last chance of the half fell to Kyle Owens from a long throw but he flicked his header just wide.
4 minutes into the second half and it looked like a game of pinball in the Mallards penalty area, but no clear chance fell to the Sky Blues. A minute later McMurray teed up Faulkner who's his effort was well saved by the feet of Brush. As United continued to push on and forced a corner but it was eventually cleared. Johnny McMurray was showing some superb strength leading the line as he kept his side on the front foot, but the home defence were proving very hard to break down.
The breakthrough finally came as Jim Ervin sent a long ball down the pitch towards Conor McCloskey and Brush misjudged the bounce of the ball leaving McCloskey an empty net to slot the ball into.
Conor McCloskey grabbed the winner on the hour mark
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On 64 minutes United were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box after a handball, but McCloskey couldn't grab his second of the game as he fired over the bar. At the other end Ballinamallard managed to scare the visiting fans by hitting the side netting. Soon after Faulkner knocked the ball down to Cathair Friel but he could only drill an effort across the face of the goal.
David Jeffrey brought on Joe McKinney in the 72nd minute to replace Gary Thompson, and he was in action straight away, heading the ball just over the bar as he was looking to score his first goal for United. 5 minutes later a penalty was awarded after David Elliot went down and handled the ball in the box, Friel stepping up to the mark but Mallards keeper Brush saved well.
The home side weren't giving up though, Jim Ervin having to make another block to prevent a goal at the other end of the pitch. As the game neared an end, Kevin Braniff came on to replace Cathair Friel, and Johnny McMurray was booked for a late challenge before time ran out for the Mallards and the points were secured.
Ballymena United host Coleraine in the quarter-final of the Tennent's Irish Cup next Saturday, kicking off at 3pm. Click here for ticket information.
Match Report by Paul Irwin
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Kyle Owens ( 12), Gary Thompson ( Joe McKinney 72 79), Allan Jenkins, Conor McCloskey, Willie Faulkner, Cathair Friel ( Kevin Braniff 86), Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar ( 68), Johnny McMurray ( 89), Caolan Loughran.

Subs not used: Tim Allen, Fra McCaffrey, Michael Kerr.