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Saturday 25th November v. Cliftonville (away) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 14th Oct, 2017 at 19:41

Date: Saturday, 14th October, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 829;
Ballymena United [2] [6]
Ards [1] [3]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Tim Marshall; Assistant 1: David Anderson; Assistant 2: Adrian Sobieski; 4th Official: Chris Morrison;
Goals:
[1-0] THOMPSON, Gary (17 mins), [2-0] BURNS, Andrew (29 mins), [2-1] TOMMONS, Gareth (37 mins), [3-1] FRIEL, Cathair (52 mins), [4-1] McKINNEY, Joe (77 mins), [4-2] GLENDINNING, Reece (79 mins), [4-3] RUDDY, Michael (pen 80 mins), [5-3] MILLAR, Leroy (81 mins), [6-3] BRANIFF, Kevin (pen 89 mins)

BALLYMENA United won a nine-goal thriller over Ards this afternoon, with six different United scorers.
The first half got off to a fairly quiet start with neither side able to gain a hold on the game. Early on, Leroy Millar had a chance from a free kick but hit the wall and at the other end Craig McMillen had a long range effort blocked by Kyle Owens. On 17 minutes the first real chance of the game produced a goal as Gary Thompson broke the deadlock with his first goal of the season. Thompson was picked out on the edge of the box by Cathair Friel and the midfielder's low drilled shot had too much pace for the palm of Sam Johnston.
Thompson almost doubled his tally for the day a minute later when Friel broke and after a two on two situation, ex-United defender Johnny Taylor denied Thompson. 22 minutes in Johnston pulled off a wonderful double save to stop United. First up the 'keeper saved well from an Owen's header and the rebound fell to Andrew Burns, but his drilled shot was stopped by the feet of Johnston. Burns wasn't to be denied on 29 minutes though as United doubled their lead. A slack Michael Ruddy backpass allowed Friel in. Friel was brought down in the box by Johnston but the ball feel to Burns and with advantage played, Burns tapped into an empty goal.
Ballymena's second seem to stun Ards into action as the visitors went close to getting back into the game. Defender David Elebert knocked down a header and Keke couldn't quite turn the ball home, as Conor Brennan gratefully gathered. Minutes later an Ards corner was only cleared as far as McMillen and his dipping shot was tipped over the bar by Brennan. With 36 minutes played the visitors halved the deficit. Taylor headed on a corner to an unmarked Gareth Tommons at the back post and Ards' captain slammed the ball home.
Inside the final five minutes of the half both sides had great chances to score. Ballymena went close first. A long free kick from Jim Ervin found Joe McKinney who crossed for Kevin Braniff and he turned the ball towards goal but was denied first by Johnston and then by Taylor on the goal line. Straight down the other end Keke missed two great chances to level. A mistake from Owens allowed Keke in but one on one with Brennan, the 'keeper came out on top. The ball fell to Keke for a second go but this time he fired over. In the final seconds of the half Johnston pulled off another good stop in the Ards goal, this time getting the slenderest of touches on a curling shot from Braniff as the half ended 2-1.
A flowing move at the start of the second half ended with Braniff finding the overlapping McKinney who was in on goal, only to be denied by Johnston's feet. On 52 minutes the Sky Blues restored their 2 goal cushion. McKinney was fouled near the edge of the box and Millar's free kick was met by Friel who headed home for his 7th goal of the season.
The next 15 minutes saw neither 'keeper worked at all in a strange low in the game. It took until the 69th minute for a chance when a free kick from Keke from 20 yards was hit under the wall and forced Brennan to get down well to save. A minute later a cross from Ruddy was headed down by sub Ben Arthurs for Tommons, but Thompson did well to block his shot. With 15 minutes left United looked to have secured the result with a fourth goal, but it turned out to be the first goal of 4 inside 6 minutes! Patient build up and plenty of passes eventually saw McKinney played in, and he coolly slotted past Johnston for 4-1.
However just 3 minutes later an Ards free kick fell to Taylor. His shot was wonderfully saved by Brennan but then after a goalmouth scramble, Reece Glendinning looked to have got the final touch on the line to put the ball into the back of the net. One minute later it was 4-3. Inside the United box Owens used too much force in tackling Ards skipper Tommons and Ian McNabb pointed to the spot. Ballymena old boy Ruddy stepped up and slotted home the 7th goal of the game.
A minute had barely passed and it was 5-3. Braniff was found at the back post and crossed for Millar who got ahead of marker to head home. With 2 minutes left on the clock Ballymena got their 6th from the penalty spot. Friel was bundled over in the box by Nathan Hanley and Braniff stepped up and sent the 'keeper the wrong way to score the last of 9 goals in a crazy game.
Ballymena United travel to Mourneview Park to face Glenavon next Saturday, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Conor Brennan, Kyle Owens, Michael Gault, Gary Thompson, Cathair Friel, Kevin Braniff, Andrew Burns ( 53), Jim Ervin, Steven McCullough, Leroy Millar, Joe McKinney.

Subs not used: Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Johnny Flynn, Conor McCloskey, Willie Faulkner.