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Saturday 27th April v. Crusaders (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Tuesday, 19th Sep, 2017 at 23:41

Date: Tuesday, 19th September, 2017; Competition: Toals Co Antrim Shield - Round 1; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [0] [3]
HW Welders [0] [0]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Shane Andrews; Assistant 1: Paul Berry; Assistant 2: Bogdan Sfirloaga;
[1-0] MILLAR, Leroy (56 mins), [2-0] FRIEL, Cathair (60 mins), [3-0] McCAFFREY, Fra (70 mins)

BALLYMENA United progressed to the Toals Co Antrim Shield quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Harland & Wolff Welders.
It took 6 minutes for the first real attack of the game, when Gary Thompson played in Cathair Friel, who allowed the ball to drop before hitting it on the half volley, forcing Jason Craughwell to save. Shortly afterwards, the visitors first chance fell to David Graham who cut inside and got a shot away, only for Kyle Owens to make a crucial block.
It was in the 15th minute before the next opportunity arrived, again for the visitors. Mikey Withers broke through the United defence and teed up David Rainey, who's shot from the edge of the box was always rising. A mistake in The Welders defence from Gareth McKeown allowed Fra McCaffrey in and he crossed for Friel, who from a good position, sliced his attempt well wide.
The Welders were forced into an early change on 20 minutes when David Graham picked up a hand injury, being replaced by Lukasz Gwiazda. After a lengthy quiet period in terms of chances, Ballymena found the best chance of the half an hour in. A long ball from Johnny Flynn was headed towards his own goal by The Welders' Dan McMurray and into the path of McCaffrey, but one on one with Craughwell, the 'keeper came out on top, making a good save with his feet.
The chance saw The Sky Blues find another gear with McCaffrey finding a great turn of pace and crossing for Thompson, who took a great first touch before firing wide. On 37 minutes Leroy Millar picked up a booking and the resulting free kick eventually made it's way to The Welders' local Ballykeel man Leon Bonnes, but his effort was always rising.
In the final 5 minutes of the half both sides went close with free kicks. Ballymena had the first effort when tonight's stand in captain Tony Kane lined up a free kick from around 25 yards, but Craughwell easily saved. Down the other end McKeown rifled a free kick from all of 35 yards and forced Ross Glendinning into a great save, tipping over his crossbar, as the half finished scoreless.
For what the first half lacked in real clear cut chances, the second half certainly made up for it. Despite Ballymena dominating the half, it was Harland and Wolff who had the first chance. A misclearance from Andrew Burns allowed Rainey an acrobatic effort, but Glendinning saved well. Kane had Ballymena's first attempt of the half. A good team move ended with Willie Faulkner setting up Kane, but his dipping cross/chip floated just over the bar. Kane was fouled whilst hitting the shot and the referee called play back for a free kick. From it, Kane's effort was heading for the bottom corner before Scott McMillan cleared.
The visitors almost took the lead when Ross Glendinning spilled a cross and it fell to Bonnes, but he couldn't get himself into a scoring opportunity. With 56 minutes gone Ballymena finally broke the deadlock thanks to an emphatic free kick from the returning Millar after an injury lay off. From around 25 yards, Millar took a free kick over the wall and straight into the top corner.
The opener gave new life to Ballymena and seemed to deflate the Belfast outfit. Millar went close to doubling his tally when he headed over a dangerous Kane cross. Right on the hour mark a cross from Millar found Faulkner, but his scissor kick went straight at Craughwell. A minute later the home side doubled their lead through Friel. The forward timed a run to perfection to beat the offside trap before cooly slotting past Craughwell to score in 3 consecutive games.
The Welder's looked to try and half the deficit quickly and a turn and shot from Withers called Glendinning into action. As Burns continued to create chances from the right hand side, a killer cross from Burns just needed a touch from Friel, but he couldn't quite stretch to reach the ball. With 19 minutes left Ballymena all but secured the win with a third. A slip from McKeown allowed Thompson to regain possession and he set up McCaffrey whose shot from just outside the box sailed into the top corner for his first of the season.
Friel could've and possibly should've scored his second shortly after McCaffrey's goal when he ran onto a clearance, but from 12 yards out he blasted over. The Welders finished strongly and almost grabbed a goal when a long throw-in was met by Rainey, whose header came off Burns and hit the post. From the resulting corner McMillan went close, his shot being blocked by United sub Steven McCullough.
With no added time added on, Ballymena ran out as comfortable 3-0 winners to kick off their Co.Antrim Shield hopes and secure a place in the last 8.
Next up for United is a long trip to Ferney Park to face Ballinamallard United in the Danske Bank Premiership on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Kyle Owens, Johnny Flynn, Michael Gault, Gary Thompson ( Daniel McIlhatton 79), Cathair Friel ( Joe McKinney 82), Willie Faulkner, Andrew Burns, Leroy Millar ( 37 Steven McCullough 72), Fra McCaffrey.

Subs not used: Conor Brennan, Kofi Balmer.