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Tuesday 23rd October v. Ballyclare Comrades (home) - Toals Co Antrim Shield QF - k.o: 7:45pm

Uploaded Saturday, 24th Feb, 2018 at 20:06

Date: Saturday, 24th February, 2018; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1147;
Crusaders [1] [3]
Ballymena United [0] [1]
Venue: Seaview; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Arnold Hunter; Assistant 1: David Anderson; Assistant 2: Adam Jeffrey; 4th Official: Raymond Crangle;
Goals:
[1-0] GLACKIN, Jamie (18 mins), [2-0] OWENS, Jordan (62 mins), [3-0] OWENS, Jordan (83 mins), [3-1] BALMER, Kofi(90 mins)

DANSKE Bank Premiership leaders Crusaders proved too strong for Ballymena United at Seaview today, the hosts winning 3-1.
Proceedings got off to a fairly quick start in North Belfast with both sides working either goalkeeper inside the first few minutes. First up was the visitors. A nice run from McKinney ended with a half volley on the edge of the box from Cathair Friel, but it was straight at Brian Jensen. At the other end Jordan Owens got the better of brother Kyle Owens and got a shot away, but like Friel's effort it was easily stopped, this time by Ross Glendinning. On 5 minutes Declan Caddell had time to turn and shoot inside the box but could only manage to find the side netting.
A similar move almost broke the deadlock 5 minutes later. Jamie Glackin ran with the ball almost the length of the United half before playing in Gavin Whyte, who also hit the side netting from the same place as Caddell. With 18 minutes gone the table toppers took the lead. This time Whyte turned provider, sliding the ball through for Glackin who despite a hint of offside slotted the ball past Glendinning to put The Crues 1-0 up.
There were shades off last weeks performance at Windsor for the Sky Blues who were finding it hard to create anything meaningful inside the final third, with Crusaders seeing most of the ball after going ahead. Despite that, Tony Kane had a good chance from a free kick 20 yards out after foul on Friel, but he sent the ball narrowly over the crossbar. In the final 15 minutes of the half the host's struggled to worry Glendinning in the United goal, with Ballymena only managing half chances themselves. Kofi Balmer headed a free kick back for Owens, but from the edge of the box the defender volleyed the ball over the bar and out of the ground. Inside 2 minutes of added time Friel was first to meet a Kane corner but his header went straight into the arms of Jensen as Crusaders took a half time lead.
At the start of the second half Glendinning made a good save to deny Billy Joe Burns after he'd been teed up by Whyte, with the 'keeper able to gather the ball after the save to deny Owens the rebound. With 5 minutes gone in the half Ballymena came close to equalising. A free kick out on the left hand side from Kane had to be stopped on the line by a grateful Jensen. The free kick narrowly missed the head of Friel, with only a touch probably needed to turn the ball home. Whyte was expectedly dangerous for the home side and had plenty of time to get a shot away from outside the box, but he dragged it well wide.
At the start of the second half Glendinning made a good save to deny Billy Joe Burns after he'd been teed up by Whyte, with the 'keeper able to gather the ball after the save to deny Owens the rebound. With 5 minutes gone in the half Ballymena came close to equalising. A free kick out on the left hand side from Kane had to be stopped on the line by a grateful Jensen. The free kick narrowly missed the head of Friel, with only a touch probably needed to turn the ball home. Whyte was expectedly dangerous for the home side and had plenty of time to get a shot away from outside the box, but he dragged it well wide.
It was almost 3 just 5 minutes later when Whyte latched onto a long ball over the top from Philip Ward, but one on one with Glendinning, the 'keeper made a great stop via his leg. With chances few and far between on Jensen's goal, Matthew Shevlin showed great strength to hold off Howard Beverland and get a shot away, but it was stopped well by the Danish 'keeper who came out quickly to thwart the effort. As Ballymena looked to create a tense final 10 minutes for The Crues, Kane had another chance from a free kick, this one further out than his first attempt, but it was straight at Jensen.
With 3 minutes left things got worse for The Braidmen as Owens added his second. The striker got on the end of a Glackin corner after no one tracked his run across the box before he headed home completely unmarked.
The final 10 or so minutes were a quiet affair until the first minute of added time when United grabbed a late consolation goal. Kane found Friel who cut inside before the ball deflected of his leg and fell to Balmer, with the defender unleashing an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box past Jensen for his second professional goal. Unfortunately it proved to be little more than a consolation strike as United fell to a second 3-1 defeat in 7 days in Belfast to lose more ground in the battle for 6th.
Ballymena United are on the road again on Tuesday night at they travel to Bangor Fuels Arena to face Ards.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Kyle Owens ( 90), Cathair Friel, Matthew Shevlin, Kofi Balmer, Jim Ervin, Steven McCullough, Leroy Millar, Andrew Burns, Joe McKinney ( Fra Nolan 77).

Subs not used: Willie Faulkner, Patrick Weir, Conor Quigley, Fra McCaffrey.