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Saturday 22nd December v. Ards (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 1st Dec, 2018 at 20:14

Date: Saturday, 1st December, 2018; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 2319;
Ballymena United [0] [2]
Linfield [1] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Ian McNabb; Assistant 1: Stephen Bell; Assistant 2: Kristian Hanna; 4th Official: Keith Kennedy;
Goals:
[0-1] WATERWORTH, Andrew (4 mins), [1-1] ADDIS, Jonathan (52 mins), [2-1] MILLAR, Leroy (59 mins)

BALLYMENA United leapfrogged Linfield to go top of the Danske Bank Premiership after a 2-1 home win over The Blues.
The top two went head to head at The Showgrounds in front of a 2,319 strong crowd and despite Adam Lecky going close by blazing over just 2 minutes in, Linfield took the lead after 4 minutes. James Knowles let the ball go on the by line, assuming it had gone out of play, but Stephen Fallon carried on and crossed for Andy Waterworth who finished at the near post. Knowles received a yellow card for his protests against the goal.
4 minutes later United found the back of the net themselves, with a Lecky back-heel setting up Jude Winchester, but the goal was ruled out for a fractional offside call. Ballymena's first legitimate threatening of Roy Carroll came from a corner, but Jonny Addis' header was comfortably saved. On 14 minutes Linfield had a goal of their own ruled out for offside after Kirk Millar had finished the rebound following a good save by Thomas McDermott.
Ballymena lost Reece Glendinning on 21 minutes to injury, as he was replaced by Tony Kane. For the remainder of the half it was the home side on top, with some nice football along the way. After dispossessing Josh Robinson, Leroy Millar had a fierce strike well saved by Carroll and shortly after Lecky had a strong penalty shout waved away after being brought down by Robinson.
Just after the half hour mark Winchester fired just over from distance and Steven McCullough had a long range free kick stopped by Carroll. Towards the end of the half Linfield came back into the match and Jimmy Callacher had a header turned goal-wards by Fallon but it was smartly saved by McDermott on the line as he got down well to stop the ball.
Right on the half-time whistle Fallon was inches away from making it 2-0 but couldn't quite get a strong enough connection as Linfield took a slender 1-0 lead to the break.
The visitors started the second period strongly, with Waterworth having an effort from 12 yards out deflected into the side netting. From the resulting corner, Ballymena survived an almighty goalmouth scramble which ended with McDermott receiving a kick to the head from a stray Linfield boot.
On 52 minutes The Braidmen equalised. McCullough whipped in an inch-perfect free kick and despite a lot of uncertainty over who got the final touch, with Addis and Cathair Friel even taking to Twitter to argue their own side for claiming it, it appears to have been Addis who was credited with the goal.
The goal was the least Ballymena deserved and 7 minutes later they completed the turn around by going 2-1 up. A nice move ended with Friel supplying Millar inside the box, with the Cullybackey man losing his man by cutting inside before firing a lovely low finish past Carroll at his near post.
Shortly after, a minute that saw chances at both ends almost saw the game swing one way then the other. McDermott pulled off a stunning one handed save to deny Linfield - the flag was up for offside - but McDermott wasn't to know that. Straight down the other end Millar bombed forward down the left wing and crossed for Friel, but in a one on one it was Carroll who came out on top, making the save.
United had a big let off with 20 minutes left when Callacher was allowed a completely free header from a corner, however luckily it went well wide. Sub Kane almost made it 3-1 to the Sky Blues in and end-to-end 5 minutes, when he was found by Winchester, but he was denied by yet another great save by Carroll, who was keeping his side in the game single-handed.
The last 10 minutes was backs to the wall for United, but the defence didn't buckle under intense pressure. A one-two between Millar and Waterworth ended with the latter getting in on goal, but he was thwarted by a timely interception from the immense Addis, with the ever-solid Jim Ervin and Kofi Balmer also throwing in crucial blocks to keep Linfield at bay.
Friel missed a chance to wrap up the game before 4 minutes of added time but Ballymena held on for yet another huge win to see them go top. A historic day also for United as we win 9 straight games for the first time in our history!
Ballymena United travel to Milltown Playing Fields next Saturday afternoon to face Warrenpoint Town, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Thomas McDermott, Jonathan Addis, Cathair Friel ( 90), James Knowles ( 4), Steven McCullough, Kofi Balmer ( 41), Jude Winchester ( Fra Nolan 90), Jim Ervin, Adam Lecky, Leroy Millar, Reece Glendinning ( Tony Kane 21).

Subs not used: Ben McCauley, Conor Quigley, Andrew Burns, Matthew Shevlin, Johnny McMurray.