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Saturday 7th July v. HW Welders (away) - Friendly - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 15th Apr, 2017 at 19:01

Date: Saturday, 15th April, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 2280;
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Linfield [1] [2]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Arnold Hunter; Assistant 1: Paul Robinson; Assistant 2: Adrian Sobieski; 4th Official: Keith Kennedy;
[0-1] CALLACHER, Jimmy (13 mins), [0-2] WATERWORTH, Andrew (88 mins)

BALLYMENA United's disappointing form continued with a 2-0 defeat at home to Linfield today.
Match officials, team captains and mascots before the game
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Despite an early chance for the visitors just 2 minutes in, the contest got off to a fairly cagey start. That chance fell to Stephen Lowry as a corner eventually made its way out to the midfielder outside the box, but he blasted his shot over Ballymena's bar. With 12 minutes on the clock, Linfield's title aspirations strengthened when defender Jimmy Callacher put the visitors in front. Joe McKinney was questionably penalised for a foul on Paul Smyth, and despite United dealing with the initial free kick, a second ball found Callacher who headed home despite a scramble on the line.
Jimmy Callacher celebrates after putting the Blues ahead
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4 minutes later Stephen Lowry tried to catch Tim Allen out with a free kick attempt from the half way line, with the 'keeper having to make a save to put it out for a corner. Ballymena's first real chance of note came from a free kick routine off the training pitch. From 25 yards out, Johnny McMurray played a low ball through to Allan Jenkins, catching out the Linfield defence, but Jenkins couldn't get a clean enough contact on the ball to trouble Roy Carroll. At the other end, Aaron Burns was next to threaten the United goal. Burns easily got away from Kyle Owens with a nice piece of skill, but then dragged his effort into the side netting.
Kyle Owens attempting to stop Aaron Burns
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Andy Waterworth got his first chance of the game on 26 minutes. Leroy Millar was dispossessed by Lowry who played in Waterworth, but he got under the ball and Allen easily saved. Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew almost doubled his side's advantage when he was given time to set himself for a shot from outside the box, but he couldn't keep the ball under the bar. Having teed up Jenkins earlier in the half, McMurray had a chance himself towards the end of the opening 45 minutes. Neat link up play from Fra McCaffrey, Joe McKinney and McMurray gave the forward a chance, but his effort from a tight angle went well wide. Right on the half time whistle, good build up play from Linfield set Matthew Clarke free, who crossed for Lowry, but his dipping effort went just over.
Linfield picked up where they left off at the start of the second half as the title- chasing side continued to dominate play. On 52 minutes it would've been 2-0 to The Blues if it wasn't for a brilliant save from Allen. Lowry whipped a free kick into the Sky Blue box and it was flicked towards goal by Paul Smyth, but Allen was on hand to make a fantastic one handed save to tip the ball round the post. 3 minutes later, with Ballymena struggling to create any meaningful chances, McMurray went for a goal of the season contender attempt. A flick on from Jenkins put the ball into the path of McMurray, who went for the first time volley from all of 30 yards, but it cleared the crossbar by some distance. Smyth had a great chance to put more distance in the scoreline on the hour mark, cutting inside past McKinney and getting a shot away, but could only pull it wide.
Joe McKinney in action
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David Jeffrey turned to Neil Lowry and Conor McCloskey on the United bench to try and find an equaliser, but between the substitutions Allen kept the score at 1-0. Linfield were awarded a free kick 20 yards out. Niall Quinn's attempt beat the Sky Blue wall, but not Allen who saved well and the rebounded effort from Smyth was headed wide. Ballymena's last throw of the dice came with Darren Henderson replacing Caolan Loughran with 5 minutes left, however it made little difference as Linfield secured all three points on 88 minutes. As United pushed men forward, a Linfield counter attack saw Lowry play through Waterworth, who made no mistake with a cool finish past Allen.
Andrew Waterworth wrapped up the points in the 88th minute
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In added time McMurray fired over a chance to give United a consolation goal, and the result stayed 2-0 as Linfield stay in their title hunt, whereas the Sky Blues made it 5 straight games without a win.
David Jeffrey deep in discussion with 4th official Keith Kennedy
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Next up for Ballymena United is an evening game against Cliftonville this Tuesday, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Tim Allen, Kyle Owens, Johnny Flynn ( 38), Allan Jenkins, Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar ( Neil Lowry 76), Joe McKinney, Johnny McMurray, Fra McCaffrey ( Conor McCloskey 80), Michael Kerr, Caolan Loughran ( Darren Henderson 85).

Subs not used: Ben McCauley, Denver Gage.