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Saturday 29th September v. Linfield (away) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 18th Aug, 2018 at 20:16

Date: Saturday, 18th August, 2018; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 602;
Ards [1] [1]
Ballymena United [0] [2]
Venue: Bangor Fuels Arena; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Keith Kennedy; Assistant 1: Mark O'Brien; Assistant 2: Adrian Sobieski; 4th Official: Chris Morrison;
Goals:
[1-0] KELLY, Mark (27 mins), [1-1] KNOWLES, James (56 mins), [1-2] McGINTY, Shane (76 mins)

BALLYMENA United remain unbeaten this season after a hard fought 2-1 victory over Ards at Bangor Fuels Arena.
The first half won't rank highly in Ballymena's best 45 minutes come the end of the season as Ards just edged a fairly lifeless half. The first opening of the game fell to United striker Adam Lecky after he was nicely picked out by Andy McGrory, but the ball was taken off the foot of Lecky as he looked to shoot thanks to a fantastic tackle from Callum Byers. It took until the 13th minute for either goalkeeper to be worked when Ards forward Mark Kelly held the ball up well before a weak shot which Ross Glendinning easily gathered.
The Sky Blues' first actual effort on goal came via captain Andrew Burns as he met a James Knowles corner but blasted well over. In a move to really sum up Ballymena's opening period the United defence got caught out trying to play offside which allowed Mark Kelly through but he was denied by the legs of Glendinning. As Ards continued to look the more dangerous going forward Michael Kerr found an unmarked Gareth Tommons in the box but he sent his header high and wide.
The hosts broke the deadlock on 27 minutes with a scrappy goal. A cross from the left was poorly dealt with at the back before falling to Josh Kelly. Kelly misconnected with his effort but it was fortunately turned goalwards by his namesake Mark from 12 yards out and the ball beat Burns on the line.
The final 15 minutes of the half yielded no efforts on goal for either side. Ballymena looked to threaten with Burns, Lecky and Ryan Mayse all trying but failing to turn a free kick from Knowles towards goal as a poor first half ended 1-0 in favour of Ards.
United's second half performance was much improved from what they had produced in the first 45 minutes. The Braidmen had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Keith Kennedy on 55 minutes when Lecky felt he was obstructed in the box by Kyle Cherry.
However those appeals were forgotten about two minutes later when Knowles equalised for the visitors with his first for the club. Ards failed to clear their lines from a Steven McCullough cross and the loose ball was picked up by Knowles who saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected over the head of 'keeper Sam Johnston and in.
The goal started a long period of domination from The Sky Blues with Johnston called into action on numerous occasions. Just short of the hour mark Mayse produced a neat first touch before firing an effort from the angle inches wide of the far post. In the next attack Lecky showed great feet to get past two defenders before finding McGrory who saw a shot from point blank range well saved. Seconds later Johnston was on hand again with another fantastic save, this time denying a pacy effort from the left by McCullough.
The flurry of chances continued with Willie Faulkner having a goal ward shot blocked by Craig McClean before Jude Winchester headed wide at the back post. Two changes in quick succession for Ballymena saw Lecky and Faulkner replaced by Matthew Shevlin and Shane McGinty respectively. In a rare second half chance for the home side sub Michael McLellan put an ambitious half volley attempt over the bar. At the other end Mayse avoided the offside trap to race through one on one but again Johnston came out on top.
With 14 minutes left Ballymena finally made one of their many chances count when sub McGinty put United ahead with a stunning goal. Mayse burst down the left hand side and cut the ball back for McGinty who was arriving and from 20 yards out he sent his first time effort into the top corner.
On 83 minutes Ards threatened to draw level when Jonny Frazer found David McAllister inside the box and his effort was palmed round the post by Glendinning. With 3 minutes left Ballymena could've and probably should've settle things when Mayse broke clear again and had both Shevlin and sub Tony Kane waiting the tap into an empty goal but his squared pass was poorly waited and Ards were able to clear.
Ballymena easily saw out 5 minutes of added time to record a valuable 2-1 win over the league's bottom side at this early stage.
Ballymena United face a tough task on Friday evening when they travel to Mourneview Park to face Glenavon, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Jonathan Addis ( 83), Scot Whiteside, Ryan Mayse, James Knowles ( Tony Kane 85), Steven McCullough, Willie Faulkner ( Shane McGinty 70), Andrew Burns ( 45), Andrew McGrory, Jude Winchester, Adam Lecky ( 52 Matthew Shevlin 66).

Subs not used: Thomas McDermott, Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar, Reece Glendinning.