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

Uploaded Tuesday, 13th Mar, 2018 at 23:25

Date: Tuesday, 13th March, 2018; Competition: Tennent's Irish Cup - Quarter-Final; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [1] [1]
Larne [0] [2]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Andrew Davey; Assistant 1: Stephen Donaldson; Assistant 2: Ken Ross; 4th Official: Steven Gregg;
[1-0] KANE, Tony (pen 34 mins), [1-1] OWENS, Kyle (o.g. 52 mins), [1-2] STEWART, Tommy (67 mins)

BALLYMENA United crashed out of the Tennent's Irish Cup with a 2-1 defeat to Larne at the Showgrounds tonight.
The first 20 minutes won't go down as an Irish Cup classic, with neither side able to gain control in the middle of the pitch, let alone create chances. The first shot came on 18 minutes, Conor McCloskey splitting the Larne defence nicely to find Fra McCaffrey, but he could only slice his shot wide. United's early frustrations were summed up when McCaffrey cut an inviting ball back onto the penalty spot only to find no one there to finish it off.
In a rare move the visitors got the ball into yhe Sky Blue's box, Larne had a penalty appeal turned down when Jerry Thompson's cross could've struck the arm of Leroy Millar. The away side first worked Ross Glendinning on 30 minutes. After Tony Kane lost the ball in a promising position, Larne hit Ballymena on the counter and a cross from David Scullion forced Glendinning to tip the delivery over the bar.
On 33 minutes United were handed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when they were awarded a penalty. McCloskey cut the ball back to McMurray and his shot was blocked by the arm of Chris Ramsey, who received a booking for his troubles. Kane stepped up and sent Conor Devlin the wrong way to give the hosts the lead in the derby.
It could've and possibly should've been 2-0 less than a minute later when a McCloskey cross was cleared only as far as McMurray, but unmarked from inside the box he volleyed inches wide. Just before half time McMurray had another, yet far more difficult chance. After easily shrugging of Ramsey, the forward hit the ball on the turn from all of 25 yards, his effort going just over as United ended a relatively quiet half with the lead.
From the minute the second half kicked off, the Braidmen failed to get out of first gear. After a vastly improved second half performance from Larne compared to the first, they equalised on 52 minutes through a calamitous own goal. Marty Donnelly delivered a routine cross towards Kyle Owens, who took a swipe at a clearance, almost missing the ball but getting enough on it to turn it into his own goal off the post to give Larne an unlikely and bizarre equaliser.
Just 2 minutes later the visitors almost turned the game on its head. With United's defence at sixes and sevens, Owens was dispossessed by Scullion who crossed for Donnelly arriving in the box, but he shot just over. On the hour mark McCloskey had a chance to regain the lead for The Sky Blues, but his shot was unorthodoxly yet effectively saved by the legs of Devlin. One minute later a mistake from Paul Finnegan allowed McCaffrey through one on one with Devlin, but he wasted the glorious chance by shooting straight at the 'keeper.
On 67 minutes Larne sent the travelling support wild as they took the lead. Donnelly whipped in a cross from a quick free kick and Tommy Stewart got in between the United defenders to head home past Glendinning.
Stunned, Ballymena tried to hit back and Devlin pulled off a fantastic save to deny McMurray from a throw-in, although the flag was already up for offside. David Jeffrey brought Matthew Shevlin and Joe McKinney off the bench to replace McCaffrey and Weir, but neither got a real chance to make a meaningful contribution.
David McDaid could've all but confirmed Larne's semi-final spot with 10 minutes to go. Donnelly found the forward in the box with all the time in the world, but he oddly opted to pass instead of shoot and the chance went. Late on as United probed for a much needed equaliser, all they could create was a shot from 18 yards by Millar which was always rising, before on 89 minutes a header from McMurray was safely gathered by Devlin.
Larne comfortably saw out added time to record a 2-1 win which dumps Ballymena out of the cup and adds to a long list of recent disappointments, with fan's frustrations both audible and visible at full time.
Ballymena United host Warrenpoint Town in the Danske Bank Premiership on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Kyle Owens, Conor McCloskey, Willie Faulkner, Patrick Weir ( Joe McKinney 76), Jim Ervin, Steven McCullough, Leroy Millar, Fra McCaffrey ( Matthew Shevlin 71), Johnny McMurray.

Subs not used: Thomas McDermott, Johnny Flynn, Kofi Balmer, Ciaran Dobbin, Francis Nolan.