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Tuesday 13th November v. Ards (away) - BetMcLean League Cup QF - k.o: 7:45pm

Uploaded Saturday, 27th Oct, 2018 at 18:55

Date: Saturday, 27th October, 2018; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1275;
Ballymena United [1] [3]
Crusaders [0] [0]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Evan Boyce; Assistant 1: George Argyropoulos; Assistant 2: Adrian Sobieski; 4th Official: Keith Kennedy;
Goals:
[1-0] LECKY, Adam (11 mins), [2-0] FAULKNER, Willie (75 mins), [3-0] McGRORY, Andrew (77 mins)

BALLYMENA United recorded an emphatic 3-0 victory over league champions Crusaders at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
Crusaders returned to Warden Street for the first time since securing the league title there in a dramatic final day last season, with Kyle Owens making his first appearance back at the Showgrounds.
There was little to split the sides in the opening 10 minutes, with both sides going close. With The Sky Blues aided by a strong wind, Willie Faulkner put a half volley over before Rodney Brown's free kick from 25 yards deflected off the wall and went narrowly wide.
On 11 minutes Ballymena went ahead with the opening goal of the game. Steven McCullough's inches perfect ball played in Adam Lecky, with the striker beating Sean O'Neill to the ball before lifting it over the 'keeper and in.
The goal started a strong period of play from United as they quickly got to work on a second goal. A low drilled free kick on the edge of the D from James Knowles saw O'Neill get down well to make the save. Ballymena had looked the most likely to score the second up until the half hour mark but The Crues forced resolute defending from the hosts in the last 15 minutes. Declan Caddell saw an effort from a good position deflected wide by Andy McGrory and from the resulting corner a thumping cross/shot from Jordan Owens somehow missed everyone in the box.
The visitors were struggling to create anything with their possession and at the other end Cathair Friel picked up a loose ball before bending an effort from outside the box just wide of the post. On the stroke of half-time Leroy Millar did well to keep the ball in play and his cross fell to McGrory at the back post, who flashed a volley just wide as United took a deserved lead into the break.
Ballymena may have expected a reaction in the second-half from Crusaders after a lacklustre first period from the North Belfast side, but a tame attempt from Sean Ward inside a minute which Ross Glendinning easily gathered was almost as good as it got. Lecky's fine footwork was back on display in the second half and after good build up play, Lecky left his marker on the ground before his powerful effort was well saved by O'Neill. More great football on the hour mark from The Braidmen involving Knowles, Friel and Lecky ended with a first time shot from Millar from distance going agonisingly wide.
On 68 minutes O'Neill was called on again to deny Friel. Lecky picked up on an error in possession from Brown and he slipped in Friel, but O'Neill was out quick to make another good save. The closest Crusaders came to a goal fell a minute later when a rasping shot from Ward from all of 30 yards went just over, a goal kick given despite Glendinning possibly getting a slight touch.
After Millar smashed another effort wide and Philip Lowry headed a throw-in past the post, Ballymena went 2-0 up. A cross from the right via McGrory fell to Faulkner at the back post, and he controlled well before sending a fantastic dipping volley over O'Neill and in.
2 minutes later The Crues' problems went from bad to worse as United bagged a third. Friel's cross from a similar position to that of McGrory's 2 minutes prior found McGrory himself in the box and he looped a header past a hapless O'Neill to make it 3-0.
Stunned, Crusaders' search for a consolation goal came to nothing to heap more pressure on The Crues, but for Ballymena, a fine all round display sends the Sky Blues above Crusaders and into 3rd position in the league.
Ballymena United host Glenavon on Friday evening in a game which will be broadcast live on BBC Two NI, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Jonathan Addis, Scot Whiteside, Cathair Friel, James Knowles ( Tony Kane 83), Steven McCullough, Willie Faulkner, Andrew McGrory, Kofi Balmer, Adam Lecky, Leroy Millar.

Subs not used: Ben McCauley, Conor Quigley, Fra Nolan, Jim Ervin, Reece Glendinning, Basit Abdulrahman Umar.