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Saturday 28th April v. Crusaders (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 16th Dec, 2017 at 19:59

Date: Saturday, 16th December, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 778;
Ballymena United [0] [3]
Carrick Rangers [1] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Andrew Davey; Assistant 1: George Argyropoulos; Assistant 2: Mark O'Brien; 4th Official: Ken Gibbons;
Goals:
[0-1] McALLISTER, Eamon (45 mins), [1-1] OWENS, Kyle (73 mins), [2-1] McCLOSKEY, Conor (75 mins), [3-1] SHEVLIN, Matthew (86 mins)

BALLYMENA United came from a goal down to beat Carrick Rangers at the Showgrounds this afternoon, moving into the top half of the league table.
It was a frustrating day for the majority of the game for United, however The Sky Blues made a quick start. Inside the first minute Johnny McMurray rattled the Carrick post. Kyle Owens knocked a free kick down into the path of McMurray, who held the ball up well before shooting on the turn, with the ball rebounding off the post before being cleared. Just 3 minutes later Carrick's Andrew Mooney was forced to clear a headed effort from Joe McKinney off his own line.
With a quarter of an hour gone Cathair Friel called Carrick's Harry Doherty into action. The forward got on the end of an aerial through ball from Tony Kane, outmuscling Paddy McNally in the process, before seeing his shot saved well by Doherty.
From there, the football for the remainder of the half didn't make it a classic. Despite that, the visitor's first chance made Ross Glendinning pull off a good save. Mooney raced clear one on one with only the United 'keeper to beat but Glendinning stood tall, saving with his chest. Just short of the half hour mark Glendinning made a fairly comfortable save after McKinney had headed a free kick towards his own goal.
5 minutes later the visitors had two decent chances to break the deadlock. A header from ex-United man McNally was blocked by Glendinning, with the rebound falling to Mooney, but his weak shot was easily gathered. It was then the turn of Doherty to make a comfortable save. Friel did well to direct a header into the path of McKinney, who had his back to goal. The midfielder turned well but his shot was a good height for Doherty.
With two minutes left in the half Doherty pulled off the save of the half. Kane's cross to the back post was met by the head of Owens but his effort was fantastically saved by the left hand of Doherty. Inside added time in the first half, Carrick took the lead. Ben Roy received the ball on the right hand side and his shot was well saved by Glendinning, but he could only parry the ball into the path of Eamon McAllister who slammed the ball home into the empty net to give Carrick a half time lead.
The second half got off to a slow start again for The Sky Blues. Fra McCaffrey tried to get the crowd going with a half volley from outside the box, but it was high and wide. On 51 minutes Carrick missed a great opportunity to double their lead. Roy played in Mooney who looked offside but the flag stayed down. Completely unmarked Mooney had only Glendinning to beat, but United's 'stopper saved well.
David Jeffrey turned to the bench to inject some needed energy, with Matthew Shevlin and Gary Thompson replacing McCaffrey and McKinney. On the hour mark Friel came close to levelling. With little other options he tried his luck from 25 yards, with the ball only creeping inches over the bar. With the home support becoming more and more frustrated, Ballymena wasted a great chance on 71 minutes to equalise. From a poor Carrick corner, Steven McCullough and McMurray counter-attacked with the latter finding Friel, but he wasted the chance by shooting first time, well over the bar.
2 minutes later, Owens went close again with a header, but again Doherty saved well. From the resulting corner, Ballymena found a much needed equaliser. Conor McCloskey crossed from a short corner and yet again found Owens back post, who headed home past Doherty.
Just two minutes later United turned the game on its head when McCloskey put the Sky Blues in front. A cross was punched clear by Doherty as far as McCloskey, and from 25 yards he hooked the ball over the Carrick defence and into the goal.
Substitute Shevlin nearly added a third one minute later, but he just couldn't get enough on the ball to turn it home. Former Ballymena man Michael Smith picked up a head injury on 79 minutes, causing a 4 minute delay before being replaced. With 5 minutes left United made sure of the points when Shevlin found Ballymena's third. Fellow sub Thompson got on the end of a flowing United move and crossed for Shevlin, who from close range got a vital touch on the ball to score his 3rd of the season.
Ballymena United travel to Seaview on Friday 22nd December to face Crusaders in the Danske Bank Premiership.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Kyle Owens, Cathair Friel, Conor McCloskey, Kofi Balmer ( 62), Jim Ervin, Steven McCullough ( 27), Fra McCaffrey ( Matthew Shevlin 57), Joe McKinney ( Gary Thompson 57), Johnny McMurray.

Subs not used: Stephen McAlorum, Kevin Braniff, Conor Brennan.