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Friday 24th August v. Glenavon (away) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 7:45pm

Uploaded Saturday, 7th Apr, 2018 at 20:44

Date: Saturday, 7th April, 2018; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1455;
Linfield [0] [2]
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Venue: National Stadium; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Goals:
[1-0] STAFFORD, Mark (59 mins), [2-0] BYRNE, Kurtis (74 mins)

TWO second half goals gave Linfield a 2-0 win over Ballymena United at the National Stadium.
With little to play for until the European play-offs, United got off to a decent start at the National Stadium. Leroy Millar played a great through ball into the path of Conor McCloskey who looked like he could race clear, however he was stopped in his tracks by Mark Stafford who pulled him back, although referee Arnold Hunter somehow didn't award a free kick.
The home side's first real chance didn't come until the 17th minute when Niall Quinn had a goal ward bound shot blocked by McAlorum and seconds later Andy Waterworth blasted a shot over on the turn. Both sides were seeing equal amounts of the ball for most of the half but as it progressed chances were few and far between.
On 23 minutes Burns relieved pressure on Ballymena's goal and found McCloskey, who embarked on a pacy run, easily skipping past Stafford before seeing his curled effort towards the top corner saved by Roy Carroll. The next chance also fell the way of the Braidmen. A corner deflected out to Kofi Balmer on the edge of the box and his looped ball back towards goal landed on the roof of the net.
The Blues had the ball in the back of the net 35 minutes in when Kirk Millar clipped a nice ball into Waterworth who headed home, however his goal was chalked off for offside. A couple of minutes before the break Waterworth went down with a weak penalty appeal which was turned away, causing Waterworth to react angrily and needlessly shove Balmer, which provided a few minor scuffles and a booking for the forward.
A solid shift from the Sky Blues saw the game go into the break goalless in an uneventful half.
Ballymena started the second period brightly without being able to create any openings and the first chance fell to the hosts, with Stafford heading a corner well over. Straight down the other end McCloskey started a counter attack and played in Matthew Shevlin with a fantastic pass. The forward did well himself to get a shooting opportunity but as he pulled the trigger Stafford produced a terrific block.
On 59 minutes the deadlock was broken by Linfield. Having headed over 10 minutes prior, Stafford made no mistake this time getting a free run from a corner and powerfully heading home to make it 1-0.
Ballymena refused to lie down after the goal but still struggled to threaten Linfield's goal, with McCloskey having a weak shot easily gathered by Carroll. The shot-stopper then turned creator as a long kick from Carroll went all the way to Kurtis Byrne in the opposite box, but he could only head over.
With 20 minutes left Tony Kane had a chance to equalise with a free kick from 20 yards out after Shevlin had been fouled. The set-piece from Kane was tipped round the post by Carroll and the corner came to nothing. McCloskey wasn't able to fully shake off an injury he'd pick up earlier in the half and he was replaced by Fra Nolan, with Joe McKinney also coming on for McAlorum as David Jeffrey freshened things up.
It was almost 2-0 between the two substitutions as Stephen Lowry teed up Byrne inside the box who rattled the post. On 74 minutes Byrne did get his goal when Millar found Waterworth down the line and he crossed for Byrne who easily sent the ball home past Ross Glendinning from close range.
It was almost 2-0 between the two substitutions as Stephen Lowry teed up Byrne inside the box who rattled the post. On 74 minutes Byrne did get his goal when Millar found Waterworth down the line and he crossed for Byrne who easily sent the ball home past Ross Glendinning from close range.
Ballymena United travel to derby rivals Coleraine next Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Stephen McAlorum ( Joe McKinney 73), Kofi Balmer, Jim Ervin, Conor Quigley, Andrew Burns ( Johnny Flynn 82), Willie Faulkner, Leroy Millar, Conor McCloskey ( Fra Nolan 71), Matthew Shevlin.

Subs not used: Thomas McDermott, Kyle Owens.