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Monday 27th July v. Coleraine (neutral) - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup SF - k.o: 4:00pm

Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup semi-final

Uploaded Friday, 30th Aug, 2019 at 23:43

Date: Friday, 30th August, 2019; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 696;
Carrick Rangers [0] [0]
Ballymena United [0] [1]
Venue: Belfast Loughshore Arena; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Steven Gregg; Assistant 1: Kristian Hanna; Assistant 2: Neil Gillespie; 4th Official: Ken Gibbons;
[0-1] WINCHESTER, Jude (59 mins)

TEN-man Ballymena United came through a tough examination with a narrow 1-0 victory over Carrick at The Belfast Loughshore Arena on Friday night.
New United signing Aaron Burns went straight into the matchday squas as he started on the bench, with David Jeffrey fielding the same starting XI from the last league outing.
To the game, and it was the hosts who started the better of the two, more so due to Ballymena's sluggish start. In the opening 5 minutes Lee Chapman almost grabbed the opener, only to be denied by a timely block from Ryan Harpur. Ross Glendinning was first worked on 7 minutes when former Sky Blues Willie Faulkner and Stewart Nixon combined, with the latter seeing his effort comfortably saved. Carrick's next chance in the opening exchanges fell to another ex-Braidman in Michael Smith who got the better of Kofi Balmer, but from a tight angle he flashed a shot wide.
It took until the 28th minute for the visiting team to cause any real concern for Carrick, but the first chance that fell was the best of the half. A neat piece of play between Leroy Millar and Andy McGrory ended with the ball farmed out to Steven McCullough whose cross feel to Cathair Friel, but from point blank range he was denied by a wonderful stop via the legs of goalkeeper Aaron Hogg.
10 minutes later Friel worked himself into another shooting opportunity on the edge of the box, but was thwarted by a sliding block from James Ferrin, before The Gers missed their own huge chance at the other end. An inswinging corner from Reece Neale was met by the onrushing Ferrin on the six yard line, but when it looked easier to score his header somehow went just over.
On the half-time whistle Millar had a great opportunity to give The Braidmen a lead when he was picked out at the back post by Friel, but he couldn't keep his header down as a half with little good chances ended scoreless.
In a carbon copy of the first half, Carrick started the second 45 minutes the strongest and if Chapman was a couple of inches taller it would've been 1-0 to the hosts, however he couldn't quite stretch far enough to turn a Nixon ball into an empty net.
With 10 minutes gone in the half Ballymena showed signs of stepping things up when Friel curled an effort just wide, before United broke the deadlock on 59 minutes. A low ball into the six yard box from the by-line via McCullough could've been put home three times as McGrory and Declan Carville both failed to convert, but after a bit of a scramble and Carrick failing to clear their lines, Jude Winchester was on hand to poke the ball home in front of the travelling support.
Just 3 minutes after Winchester's opener the game changed as Ballymena were reduced to 10 men. Jonny Addis was adjudged to have made a late, dangerous challenge on Chapman which saw referee Steven Gregg reach for his red card, to the dismay of Addis and his teammates.
The sending off meant a backs to the wall performance from Ballymena for the closing 25 minutes as Carrick looked to take advantage of the extra man. A series of free kicks and corners came and went for Carrick, with a lot of credit needing to go to Glendinning who dealt well with a number of the crosses. Despite plenty of the ball the closest Carrick came was through Gerard Kelly, but he couldn't get enough on a header to worry Glendinning.
With Ballymena looking to hit on the break, sub Ross Lavery called Hogg into action before Friel raced clear down the left wing, only to again find the hands of Hogg.
Carrick failed to create anything in the 5 minutes of added time as Ballymena, far from their best, claimed a dogged and important three points at a tough venue.
Ballymena United are back at the Showgrounds next Saturday afternoon when they host Warrenpoint Town in the Danske Bank Premiership, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Jonathan Addis ( 63), Ryan Harpur ( 90), Cathair Friel, Steven McCullough, Declan Carville ( Andrew Burns 66), Andrew McGrory, Kofi Balmer, Jude Winchester ( Ross Lavery 80), Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar.

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Ryan Mayse, Shane McGinty, Aaron Burns, Joshua Kelly.