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Friday 5th April v. Linfield (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 7:45pm

Uploaded Saturday, 9th Sep, 2017 at 19:13

Date: Saturday, 9th September, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 220;
Warrenpoint Town [1] [1]
Ballymena United [1] [3]
Venue: Milltown Playing Fields; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Raymond Hetherington; Assistant 1: Adrian Sobieski; Assistant 2: Ryan Kelsey; 4th Official: Neil Robinson;
[1-0] MURRAY, Martin (1 mins), [1-1] FRIEL, Cathair (17 mins), [1-2] FRIARS, Emmet (61 mins), [1-3] FRIEL, Cathair (80 mins)

BALLYMENA United secured back to back league wins with a 3-1 win over Warrenpoint Town at Milltown.
A positive result was in question after just 31 seconds when the home side raced into an extremely early lead. A fantastic through ball from Stephen Murray split the United defence and Martin Murray got on the end of the pass before slotting home past Conor Brennan.
Warrenpoint threatened to double their advantage just 5 minutes later when a misplaced Emmett Friars header landed at the feet of Sean Mackle, however he blasted well over. The visitors first chance came 8 minutes in when the ball sat up nicely for Tony Kane outside the box, but Kane's effort sailed over the crossbar. The Point's 'keeper Jonathan Parr was forced into his first save on 17 minutes. Kevin Braniff beat the offside trap and got a shot away, making Parr pull off a one handed save before the ball was cleared for a corner. From the resulting corner United levelled. Cathair Friel rose highest at the near post and looped his header into the back of the net at the far post.
Cathair Friel grabbed the equaliser in the 17th minute
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Warrenpoint tried to hit back quickly but another one of their Murray's headed a free kick wide, with TJ Murray involved this time. A very influential Conor McCloskey was teed up by Kyle Owens at the other end on the edge of the box, but his rifled effort was block by a home defender for a corner, and from the corner Owens couldn't keep an awkward header on target.
Just short of the half hour mark McCloskey was denied again, this time by Parr. A low cross from Friel went through Jordan Lyttle and arrived to McCloskey, but from inside the 6 yard box Parr made himself big to make the save. With the Sky Blues in firm control of the game, the chances continued to come inside the final 15 minutes of the half. Owens went close again with a header, this time heading over. Shortly after it was Braniff who was heading over after getting on the end of a Kane free kick as the sides went into the break all square.
United pick up where they'd left off at the start of the second half as they continued to look close to taking the lead. A cross from McCloskey was targeting Kane at the back post, but the ball was a little high to allow Kane to trouble Parr. Just before the hour mark both sides went close to taking the lead. First up Braniff turned a low free kick from Steven McCullough over Parr's goal. At the other end TJ Murray headed just over from a hard, driven corner.
On 63 minutes Ballymena finally found a second which had been coming for some time. A good corner from Steven McCullough was met at the back post by Friars who headed home past Parr for the centre back's second goal in as many games.
Emmet Friars scored the second in the 61st minute
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The second United goal injected some energy into the home side who started to create chances. A dangerous ball from Stephen Murray had to be dealt with by Gary Thompson who was forced to put the ball out for a corner, which came to nothing. Despite Warrenpoint getting forward more and more, Ballymena almost opened up a two goal lead when McCloskey set himself on his left foot before shooting from distance, with his deflected effort clipping off the top of the crossbar and over.
With Martin Murray looking more prominent, he set up Neil McCafferty outside the box, but his shot went straight into Brenan's arms. With 20 minutes left Murray was involved again, this time crossing to his namesake Stephen Murray, but he couldn't connect with a header. With 75 minutes on the clock, Warrenpoint came their closest to equalising. Michael Gault was booked for a foul 20 yards out, and captain Mackle stepped up, but with Brennan beaten the ball went inches wide.
With 10 minutes left Ballymena looked to have wrapped up all 3 points with a goal on the break. Braniff did well to dispossess Warrenpoint and ran the wing before timing a cross to perfection to find Friel who poked the ball past Parr for his second of the day.
Cathair Friel slotted home the winner in the 17th minute
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In the final minutes of the game Brennan had to react to push the ball away from his top corner straight from a corner from goal scorer Martin Murray. In added time Kane almost added a spectacular fourth when he volleyed the ball on the turn from outside the box, but Parr thwarted him with a low one handed save as Ballymena completed a 3-1 win to make it 3 wins on the spin in all competitions and a reward for the away fans making the long trip.
David Jeffrey was a happy man after the Sky Blues grabbed another 3 points
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Ballymena United host Glentoran in the Danske Bank Premiership next Saturday, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Conor Brennan, Tony Kane, Emmet Friars, Kyle Owens, Michael Gault ( 74), Gary Thompson, Cathair Friel ( Daniel McIlhatton 90), Kevin Braniff, Jim Ervin, Steven McCullough, Conor McCloskey ( 53 Willie Faulkner 82).

Subs not used: Ross Glendinning, Kofi Balmer, Fra McCaffrey.