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Tuesday 15th October v. Crusaders (home) - Toals Co Antrim Shield Rd 2 - k.o: 7:45pm

Uploaded Saturday, 22nd Sep, 2018 at 20:16

Date: Saturday, 22nd September, 2018; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1256;
Cliftonville [2] [3]
Ballymena United [1] [2]
Venue: Solitude; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Jamie Robinson; Assistant 1: Andrew Nethery; Assistant 2: Ryan Kelsey; 4th Official: Chris Morrison;
[0-1] MAYSE, Ryan (2 mins), [1-1] GORMLEY, Joe (pen 6 mins), [2-1] CURRAN, Chris (39 mins), [2-2] QUIGLEY, Conor (67 mins), [3-2] DONNELLY, Jay (84 mins)

BALLYMENA United conceded a late goal as they fell to a narrow defeat at Cliftonville on Saturday afternoon.
The game at Solitude was United's first match in three weeks and it could not have got off to a better start, going ahead after only 3 minutes. Jay Donnelly gave the ball away inside his own box to Ryan Mayse before Garry Breen played a poor back pass to his 'keeper. In Richard Brush's attempts to clear the ball his clearance came back off Mayse and into the goal in front of Ballymena's large travelling support, in a goal that wasn't pretty, but certainly effective.
The Braidmen's lead lasted less than 2 minutes as Cliftonville levelled in a frantic start to the game. Ryan Curran was clipped by Conor Quigley just inside the box and from the spot Joe Gormley made no mistake sending the ball straight down the middle.
The fixture settled down following the early drama with not much to split either side. At one end Jamie Harney headed a corner over whilst at the other Jude Winchester struck just wide of the post at his old stumping ground. Mayse had the beating of The Reds' defence for pace and he used it to latch onto a long throw to race clear, before putting his effort from a one on one situation just wide.
Shortly after the chance from Mayse, Cathair Friel did well to win the ball back before attempting an ambitious half volley from outside the box which dipped just over. On the half hour mark Mayse raced clear again in a carbon copy of his earlier chance. This time Mayse hit the target but was denied by a terrific one handed save from Brush and Willie Faulkner just couldn't quite reach the rebound.
Kofi Balmer was dispossessed in his own half before Gormley's first time effort was brilliantly saved round the post by Ross Glendinning. The resulting corner cleared the box but from the second ball in Ryan Curran turned the ball over at the back post from close range.
With The Reds probing they took the lead for the first time on 39 minutes. Captain Chris Curran was given the freedom of Solitude to run from just inside the Ballymena half before neatly slotting past Glendinning for 2-1.
In added time James Knowles had a 25 yard free kick to try and equalise from but his tame effort was gathered as the half ended 2-1.
Cliftonville picked up in the second half where they left off in the first and within 5 minutes had struck the woodwork. Substitute Conor McMenamin played in a low cross to the near post for Ryan Curran who saw his effort come back off the post. Ballymena's first meaningful attack of the half ended with a strike from Winchester being blocked by Ryan Catney on route to the target. With Ballymena finding their feet in the half sub Johnny McMurray was denied by a fine Brush save after a deep cross from Reece Glendinning.
After a bit of a lull around the hour mark Ballymena grabbed an equaliser on 67 minutes. From very little Mayse displayed nice footwork to get into a crossing position and he found the unlikely head of Quigley in the box, with the full back heading home his first Ballymena goal for 2-2.
With a quarter of an hour left it was hard to tell which side would go on and grab the winner. Conor McDonald showed good strength to get a shot away but was thwarted by a good Glendinning save, while for Ballymena Friel ended a good move between him, Mayse and McMurray by firing wide.
With just 5 minutes left the hosts found a winner. Substitute Stephen Garrett had time to send a cross into the box and it was met at the back post by Jay Donnelly who rose highest to head home.
Ballymena struggled to threaten in the dying seconds and came away with a 3-2 defeat in a close game.
Ballymena United travel to derby rivals Coleraine on Tuesday evening for their next Danske Bank Premiership clash, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Conor Quigley, Jonathan Addis, Ryan Mayse, Cathair Friel ( Andrew McGrory 75), James Knowles ( Leroy Millar 65), Willie Faulkner ( Johnny McMurray 60 90), Kofi Balmer ( 58), Jude Winchester, Jim Ervin, Reece Glendinning.

Subs not used: Thomas McDermott, Scot Whiteside, Adam Lecky, Connor Farrelly.