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Saturday 26th January v. Ards (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Friday, 10th Nov, 2017 at 23:22

Date: Friday, 10th November, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1921;
Ballymena United [0] [2]
Linfield [1] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Evan Boyce; Assistant 1: Ken Ross; Assistant 2: Neill Gillespie; 4th Official: Andrew Davey;
[0-1] GARRETT, Robert (3 mins), [1-1] McCLOSKEY, Conor (53 mins), [2-1] McMURRAY, Johnny (61 mins)

TWO stunning second half strikes guided Ballymena to a 2-1 win over 10-man Linfield on Friday night.
After a minutes silence was held prior to kick off ahead of Remembrance Sunday, the visitors got off to the perfect start taking the lead just 4 minutes in. A cross was cleared only as far as Robert Garrett, who from the edge of the box drilled a low shot past Ross Glendinning.
Shortly after Linfield captain Stephen Lowry couldn't have came closer to making it 2-0 when his powerful shot from a corner was blocked on the goal line by the body of Willie Faulkner. As Linfield continued to put pressure on United's goal, Mark Stafford almost got on the end of a Matthew Clarke cross, but Glendinning bravely came to gather the ball, taking a hit in the process.
It was on the half hour mark that Ballymena worked stand-in Linfield 'keeper Gareth Deane for the first time. A Leroy Millar free kick from long range was spilled wide by Deane for a corner, which came to nothing but prompted a sustained period of Sky Blue pressure. From a string of corners the ball simply wouldn't quite fall for United before Kofi Balmer headed over.
As Linfield finally managed to get a hold back on the game, Garrett forced Glendinning into a fine save from distance. On 42 minutes a mistake from Johnny Flynn allowed Kirk Millar in, but Balmer produced a fantastic goal saving tackle to deny the winger. Flynn picked up an injury shortly after and despite trying to play on, had to be replaced by Steven McCullough. In the final play of the half Andrew Waterworth almost broke completely free on goal but Balmer stuck with him well until Waterworth tried to win a penalty, with referee Evan Boyce not interested, as the reigning league champions went into the break ahead.
The second half took a while to get going but on 53 minutes it sprung into life as United found an equaliser. Faulkner was fouled around 30 yards out and Conor McCloskey went straight for goal, firing the ball past Deane with the help of the woodwork to bring Ballymena level with a cracking strike.
The goal kicked United onto another level and 2 minutes later Gary Thompson won the ball back well before supplying Cathair Friel who cut inside but then fired over. Friel then turned provider, knocking a Glendinning goal kick into the path of Johnny McMurray who could only drag his shot wide. In a moment of respite for the Blues Lowry did well to slide in Louis Rooney, but off balance he shot wide. Straight down the other end, on the hour mark, United took the lead for the first time through a stunning McMurray strike. From around 25 yards out McMurray picked the ball up and beautifully lobbed Deane to turn the game on its head.
Linfield looked to hit back instantly and Jordan Stewart did well to dummy Balmer before striking inches wide. Stewart found himself with an even better chance on 66 minutes when a deflected Chris Casement cross landed at his feet inside the box, but Stewart volleyed well over. With Ballymena happy to sit on the one goal lead Linfield put on the pressure and Waterworth sent a header straight into the hands of Glendinning. From a corner Stafford worked Glendinning, with the United 'keeper getting down well to stop the defender's header. On 82 minutes Millar had a good chance for Linfield after a nice one two between Lowry and Garrett, but Millar fired wide.
With 3 minutes left Linfield's hopes of an equaliser dealt a blow when Garrett caught Friel with a late tackle, earning Garrett a second yellow card to see the Blue's down to 10 men. Inside 5 minutes of added time Ballymena were hit with another injury, this time for Andrew Burns, and he was replaced with Fra McCaffrey.
Ballymena saw out the added time with relative ease to earn a much needed win and a first league win over David Healy's men since 2012.
Match Sponsor:
Thanks to tonight's match sponsor, McCurdy Fuels, for their continued support of the club.
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Match Ball Sponsor:
Thanks also to tonight's match ball sponsor, Eagle Bar & Grill, for their on-going support.
Victoria Henry and Terri Reid presenting the match ball on behalf of Eagle Bar & Grill
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Ballymena United host Ards on Wednesday night in the quarter-final of the Bet McLean League Cup, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Johnny Flynn ( Steven McCullough 45), Gary Thompson ( 37), Cathair Friel, Conor McCloskey (Tony Kane 88), Willie Faulkner, Andrew Burns ( 71 Fra McCaffrey 90), Kofi Balmer, Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar, Johnny McMurray ( 90).

Subs not used: Matthew Shevlin, Joe McKinney.