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Saturday 27th April v. Crusaders (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 17th Mar, 2018 at 19:16

Date: Saturday, 17th March, 2018; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 698;
Ballymena United [1] [1]
Warrenpoint Town [2] [3]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Raymond Crangle; Assistant 1: Kristian Hanna; Assistant 2: Joseph Wilson; 4th Official: Tony Clarke;
[1-0] McMURRAY, Johnny (19 mins), [1-1] MACKLE, Sean (pen 32 mins), [1-2] REILLY, Anto (40 mins), [1-3] O'SULLIVAN, Alan (54 mins)

BALLYMENA United's poor recent form continued with a 3-1 league defeat at home to Warrenpoint Town.
In front of a significantly reduced attendance from Tuesday night's Irish Cup exit against Larne, it was the County Down side who started the better. A corner from captain Sean Mackle was narrowly turned over at the back post by Lorcan Forde. United's first opening came via good play between Johnny McMurray, Leroy Millar and Willie Faulkner, but as the latter went to shoot, ex-United man Danny Wallace made a goal saving tackle.
Ross Glendinning was called into action on 9 minutes when Forde latched onto a long ball and tried to chip the 'keeper, with The Sky Blue stopper tipping it over. The next chance fell for The Point in an end to end opening 15 minutes. Anto Reilly saw a header from a corner cleared on the line by Faulkner. With Ballymena's injury list already lengthy, it was added to 13 minutes in when Andrew Burns hobbled off, being replaced by the returning Johnny Flynn.
After a 3 minute assault on the Warrenpoint goal, the home side finally took the lead. First McMurray hit a shot from outside the box straight at Jonathan Parr before McMurray shot over the bar after being played in by Conor Quigley. Shortly afterwards McMurray picked up on a flick on by Faulkner and went through one on one, but Parr saved well with his legs. Finally however, it was McMurray got the better of the visitors 'keeper. Steven McCullough whipped in a pin-point cross from a corner to find McMurray who headed home past Parr.
Just 2 minutes later Millar missed a glorious chance for 2-0. More good play with the ball kept on the ground ended with McMurray finding Millar, but he slotted the ball just wide from 12 yards out. If Millar's effort was a good chance for a second goal, an even better one arrived when Ballymena were awarded a penalty. McMurray nicely rolled Reilly who then brought him down in the box. Tony Kane took the spot kick but saw his low effort fantastically saved by Parr.
The Braidmen would come to rue the penalty miss when Warrenpoint got one of their own on 31 minutes. Flynn looked to have made a good tackle to win the ball off Alan O'Sullivan, but Raymond Crangle thought otherwise, awarding a penalty. Mackle stepped up and sent Glendinning the wrong way, levelling the scores.
The penalty wouldn't prove to be the end of United's woes in the first half as Warrenpoint then took the lead on 40 minutes. A Mackle corner to the back post was poorly dealt with by Glendinning and his defenders, with Reilly on hand to head home through a sea of players.
The second half started as the first had ended for the deflated hosts with Warrenpoint stretching their lead to 3-1 on 54 minutes. A counter attack ended with Josh Lynch delivering a great ball to the back post for O'Sullivan who easily headed home.
Ballymena had to hit back quickly and almost did 5 minutes later when Kane crossed an enticing free kick which was headed just wide by Conor McCloskey. 3 minutes after the hour mark McCullough missed a great chance for 3-2. McMurray slid the left back through one on one but his shot was a perfect height for Parr who made himself big to save. From the resulting corner a goalmouth scramble saw Kane and Millar both have shots blocked before the visitors eventually cleared.
The lively and dangerous Forde went inches away from wrapping up the 3 points with 20 minutes left. Mackle's shot deflected into Forde's path and he cut inside before narrowly missing the top corner. A couple of minutes later at the other end Parr had to punch clear a corner directly from the boot of McCullough. Matthew Shevlin was brought on for McCloskey and went close with 11 minutes left. Jim Ervin nicely found the forward who took a good first touch before shooting wide with time beginning to run out for David Jeffrey's men.
Despite a late long range effort from Millar going just over the top of the crossbar Warrenpoint never looked to be in any real danger of surrendering their lead as they recorded the 3-1 win, with Ballymena's disappointing form in 2018 showing little sign of stopping after another flat performance.
Ballymena United travel to Solitude on Tuesday evening to play the game that was abandoned earlier in the season. Remember, entrance is free and kick off is 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Conor McCloskey ( Matthew Shevlin 67), Willie Faulkner ( Fra McCaffrey 83), Andrew Burns ( Johnny Flynn 13), Kofi Balmer ( 81), Jim Ervin ( 61), Steven McCullough, Leroy Millar, Johnny McMurray, Conor Quigley.

Subs not used: Patrick Weir, Joe McKinney.