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Saturday 16th December v. Carrick Rangers (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 23rd Sep, 2017 at 21:42

Date: Saturday, 23rd September, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 282;
Ballinamallard United [0] [1]
Ballymena United [2] [3]
Venue: Ferney Park; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Goals:
[0-1] MILLAR, Leroy (15 mins), [0-2] KANE, Tony (pen 21 mins), [0-3] FRIEL, Cathair (55 mins), [1-3] McILWAINE, Josh (66 mins)

BALLYMENA got back to winning ways in the league with a 3-1 victory over Ballinamallard at Ferney Park.
A strong number of Sky Blue supporters made the long trip to Co. Fermanagh and were almost rewarded with a goal inside 3 minutes. Andrew Burns was played in on the right hand side and lifted the ball up over Mallards captain and keeper Richard Brush towards goal. Cathair Friel tried to help the ball over the line but Ballinamallard defender Colm McLaughlin got to the ball first to clear it on the line.
Ballymena went on to dominate the opening stages and went close again on the 10 minute mark, with Friel glancing a near post header from a corner just wide. 16 minutes in United made their pressure count by taking the lead via Leroy Millar. A Tony Kane corner was only cleared as far as Millar who struck a sweet half volley from outside the box past Brush to give Millar his second goal of the week.
Just four minutes later Ballymena were handed the chance to double the advantage after Kane was brought down in the box by an outstretched Mallards leg. Kane got up and took the penalty himself, sending Brush the wrong way and giving the visitors a 2-0 lead.
It took until the 28th minute for the hosts first decent chance but Ross Taheny couldn't get a clean contact on a header from a corner. Ballymena almost handed Ballinamallard their first goal of the game shortly after when a punched clearance from Conor Brennan hit Michael Gault and headed back towards Brennan's goal, but the ball crept just wide of the post.
In a bright period of play for The Mallards Jonathan Leddy tested Brennan with a low, cross goal shot which Brennan was able to push away from goal. After that Niall Owens turned Johnny Flynn before having a shot deflected just wide and from the resulting corner Leddy couldn't curl the ball back inside the post from the edge of the box.
Just as they had started the half, United finished it quickly with two chances. A good team move eventually saw Friel play the ball out to Burns who crossed for an unmarked Joe McKinney, but he headed over. Then, Kane picked up a loose pass at the back from Matty Smyth and had time to set himself, but blazed over.
The second half was a much tighter affair but it was The Sky Blues who started quicker. McKinney controlled a long Burns throw in and cut the ball back to Kane, who had his shot blocked by Friel, before Gault lined up a shot but it too was blocked, this time by a home defender.
With 55 minutes on the clock Ballymena found a third goal to open up a sizeable lead. Gary Thompson was fouled on the right hand side of the box. Millar whipped the free kick in and it was met by the faintest of touches from Friel who flicked his header into the back of the net.
It could've been four not long after when Thompson set up Kane, but under pressure from Richard Clarke his tame shot was easily gathered by Brush. On 66 minutes Ballinamallard got a goal back courtesy of Joshua McIlwaine. Ryan McConnell crossed from the right and McIlwaine jumped highest to head the ball home past Brennan.
With 10 minutes left Mallard's sub Shane McGinty had a great chance to score when he had time to run with the ball but from just outside the box he pulled his shot wide. Michael Gault picked up a booking inside the final 10 minutes but an advantage from the referee allowed McGinty to play on. His ball across goal went under Brennan but he redeemed himself seconds later by stopping McGinty from point blank range. The goal put a spring in The Mallards step as they pushed to set up a tense finish. Ryan Curran dispossessed Kyle Owens halfway inside the United half but had little option other than to shot himself, dragging his effort wide.
In the final minutes Jason McCartney headed over at the back post for The Mallards. At the other end the fresh legs of United sub Conor McCloskey allowed him to run at the Ballinamallard defence, but his shot was easily saved as Ballymena had to settle for 3 goals and a win ahead of next weeks derby game.
Ballymena United host Coleraine in the Danske Bank Premiership next Saturday, kicking off at 3:00pm. Admission is by ticket only and details can be found here.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Conor Brennan, Tony Kane, Kyle Owens, Johnny Flynn ( 52), Michael Gault ( 80), Gary Thompson, Cathair Friel, Andrew Burns, Jim Ervin ( 27), Leroy Millar, Joe McKinney ( Conor McCloskey 85).

Subs not used: Ross Glendinning, Willie Faulkner, Steven McCullough, Fra McCaffrey.