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Uploaded Wednesday, 24th Apr, 2019 at 00:00

Date: Tuesday, 23rd April, 2019; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1328;
Ballymena United [2] [4]
Glenavon [1] [3]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Lee Tavinder; Assistant 1: Gareth Eakin; Assistant 2: Adrian Sobieski; 4th Official: Declan Hassan;
Goals:
[1-0] McGRORY, Andrew (8 mins), [1-1] SHARKEY, Seamus (19 mins), [2-1] McMURRAY, Johnny (22 mins), [3-1] LECKY, Adam (56 mins), [3-2] SINGLETON, James (58 mins), [3-3] MITCHELL, Andrew (85 mins), [4-3] McGINTY, Shane (87 mins)

BALLYMENA United beat visiting Glenavon 4-3 on Tuesday night to secure an automatic spot in European competition next season.
As 2nd took on 3rd, United headed into the game knowing a point would be enough to secure runners-up spot in the league for the first time in 39 years, and they entered the game with Scot Whiteside replacing the suspended Leroy Millar.
Johnny McMurray started the game brightly for The Sky Blues and after seeing a shot drift wide on 8 minutes, seconds later he was instrumental in the opening goal. The forward won the ball back in his own half before chasing down his own ball and picking up on a loose back-pass from Caolan Marron. From there McMurray squared the ball across goal for ex-Glenavon man Andy McGrory to easily finish.
10 minutes later The Lurgan Blues were level. After his first corner was cleared, Conor McCloskey's second ball in was met by Seamus Sharkey who rose highest to head home.
Within 4 minutes of Sharkey's leveller The Braidmen regained the lead with a deserved goal for McMurray. Adam Lecky flicked a long ball on into the path of McGrory who tried to chip Jonny Tuffey but was denied by the 'keeper, but on the rebound McMurray was there to smash home on the half volley.
After the flurry of goals the half calmed down until its conclusion. McMurray was continuing to lead the United cause up front and after he was found by a fantastic ball down the line from Lecky, his effort flew just wide. Towards the end of the half the hosts had Ross Glendinning to thank as they took a lead into the break. James Singleton reacted quickest to a ball coming out of the air but from close range he was denied by the legs of Glendinning.
After a quiet opening 10 minutes at the start of the second half, the game exploded into life with a non-stop, end to end 35 minutes. 11 minutes into the half United moved a step closer to Europe as they went 3-1 ahead with a well worked goal. Lecky found McGrory, who back-heeled the ball to McMurray, before he returned the ball to Lecky with a back-heel of his own, and with Lecky through he calmly slotted home for his 17th of the season.
After Glendinning made a good stop to deny Eoin Wearen, Glenavon pulled a goal back, in controversial circumstances, 2 minutes after Lecky's strike. Glendinning looked to have been fouled after a corner came in, but referee Lee Tavinder thought otherwise and the second ball was slammed home by Singleton, with Glendinning booked for his protests.
With just under half an hour left a frantic five minutes saw multiple chances at either end. For United, McMurray had an effort deflect into the side netting before Tony Kane did well to find McGrory who teed up McMurray again, but his curling effort was tipped onto the bar by Tuffey. Meanwhile at the other end, the visitors saw chances come and go for subs Robert Norton and Jordan Jenkins, with Singleton also having goal ruled out for offside.
As nerves gathered into the final 10 minutes, Glenavon grabbed an equaliser with 5 minutes left. Manager Gary Hamilton brought himself on and he glanced on a long ball into the path of Andy Mitchell, who made no mistake in firing the ball first time past Glendinning.
However, in a game that had everything there was more to come as super-sub Shane McGinty snatched a winner for The Sky Blues on 87 minutes. A corner from McGrory was met by Albert Watson, who headed onto McGinty, and the sub showed great composure with a neat first touch before he fired home past Tuffey to send The Showgrounds wild.
In added time there was still time for Wearen to hit the crossbar and a scuffle between most players in which McCloskey was extremely lucky to stay on the pitch, but United held on to spark huge celebrations, mainly from manager David Jeffrey himself, as he guided United to second place for only the third time in our history.
Ballymena United host Crusaders in their last game of the season on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning ( 58), Tony Kane ( 90), Jonathan Addis, Scot Whiteside, Steven McCullough, Andrew McGrory, Kofi Balmer, Jim Ervin, Adam Lecky, Johnny McMurray ( 72 Shane McGinty 85), Albert Watson ( 79).

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Conor Quigley, Ryan Mayse, Willie Faulkner, Fra Nolan, Matthew Shevlin.