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

Uploaded Monday, 11th Feb, 2019 at 23:21

Date: Monday, 11th February, 2019; Competition: Tennent's Irish Cup - Round 6; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [2] [4]
Portadown [1] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Ross Dunlop; Assistant 1: Richard Storey; Assistant 2: Bogdan Sfirloaga; 4th Official: Mark Robert Dillon;
[0-1] SALLEY, Adam (10 mins), [1-1] FRIEL, Cathair (pen 16 mins), [2-1] LECKY, Adam (22 mins), [3-1] LECKY, Adam (75 mins), [4-1] ERVIN, Jim (78 mins)

BALLYMENA United came from behind at home to Portadown tonight to claim a place in the quarter-finals of this seasons Tennent's Irish Cup.
United made one change to the side that beat Institute just two days ago as Tony Kane replaced Jude Winchester in the starting line up.
Portadown, who sit 3rd in the Championship, started brightly at The Showgrounds and after 10 minutes broke the deadlock. From a free kick routine off the training ground Liam McKenna spotted the run of Adam Salley, who turned on the edge of box and curled a shot/cross that missed everyone, including Ross Glendinning, before finding the top corner.
Going behind seemed to spark a bit of life into the Sky Blues and after Cathair Friel miscued a chance to lob Tuda Murphy, Ballymena had the chance to go level when awarded a penalty on 16 minutes. Former United man Kevin Braniff brought down Jonny Addis inside the box and Friel stepped up, sending the 'keeper the wrong way to make it 1-1 with his second penalty conversion in 3 days.
5 minutes later the Braidmen turned the game around as they went in front. Friel had a run at Greg Hall on the left before dinking a cross into Adam Lecky who headed home into the top corner.
Ballymena were now in firm control of the tie and looked likely to find a 3rd before the break. Leroy Millar was busy in the opening half hour and had an opportunity to have a go from all of 30 yards, but his low drive was well gathered by Murphy. At the other the Ports still looked threatening and despite looking well offside, Aaron Duke got on the end of a long punt forward but saw his opening thwarted by Glendinning.
In the final 10 minutes of the half Steven McCullough sent in a number of dangerous crosses that just wouldn't quite fall for a Sky Blue shirt and Andy McGrory blazed a difficult chance over the bar as the half ended 2-1 to the Skies.
The visitors started the second half in a similar vein to the first but the first real chance fell United's way. Murphy spilled a cross from McGrory which allowed Friel to tee up Kane, but his effort from 18 yards sailed over the crossbar. As Portadown embarked on their most promising spell of the game Glendinning was forced into two good saves in as many minutes. Braniff picked out McKenna who stung the palms of Glendinning with an attempt before Braniff again broke on the counter and played in Chris Lavery, but Glendinning was again there to make a fine one handed save.
Not to be outdone Murphy also produced an outstanding stop to save a header from Friel before United survived a huge scare as they managed to eventually clear two goalmouth scrambles in quick succession. With the game still far from over a change in the middle saw referee Ross Dunlop go off injured, being replaced by 4th official Mark Dillon.
As United chased a nerve-easing 3rd goal to put daylight in the scoreline, Addis scooped a great chance from close range over the bar before Lecky found that tension-killing 3rd on 75 minutes. Ballymena hit the Ports on the counter and Lecky set up Millar who had a low effort saved, but Lecky was quick to the rebound and slotted home past Murphy for his second of the night.
4 minutes later United made sure of a place in the last 8 when captain Jim Ervin scored only his third goal for the club. The skipper charged forward on an attack and stayed up there where he was found by Millar, and after sorting his feet out the defender finished expertly for the rarest of goals, but the most celebrated of the night.
Late on United made three subs as Portadown almost grabbed a consolation goal when Martin Bradley slid in Sally, but again Glendinning was up to the task and saved smartly to secure a 4-1 win.
The victory sees United through to the quarter-finals of the Tennent's Irish Cup where they will face Crusaders at Seaview.
Ballymena United travel to the National Stadium to face Linfield in the final of this years BetMcLean League Cup, kicking off at 5:30pm. Tickets are still available online from Ticketmaster.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Jonathan Addis ( 6), Cathair Friel ( Matthew Shevlin 83), James Knowles, Steven McCullough, Andrew McGrory, Kofi Balmer ( Scot Whiteside 81), Jim Ervin, Adam Lecky, Leroy Millar ( Shane McGinty 80).

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Conor Quigley, Willie Faulkner, Johnny McMurray.