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Saturday 14th December v. Dungannon Swifts (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 23rd Nov, 2019 at 19:24

Date: Saturday, 23rd November, 2019; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 867;
Ballymena United [0] [1]
Institute [1] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Evan Boyce; Assistant 1: Gavin Hegarty; Assistant 2: Richard Storey; 4th Official: Keith Kennedy;
Goals:
[0-1] McCREADY, Joe (pen 28 mins), [1-1] McGRORY, Andrew (pen 50 mins)

DESPITE Andy McGrory's penalty getting Ballymena United a first league point in five games, the long wait for a league win goes on after a 1-1 draw with Institute at the Showgrounds.
In a cagey and cautious opening quarter of an hour both sides traded a couple of half chances. Kenny Kane almost got on the end of a cross from Shane McGinty, only for Stute 'keeper Rory Brown to get there first, and at the other end Niall Grace had time to bring the ball down in the box, but fired well over. On 14 minutes the extremely unlikely source of Jim Ervin called Brown into action with a shot from 20 yards out after the skipper dispossessed Joe McCready, who himself had a free kick well saved by Ross Glendinning not long after.
By the mid point of the half it was the visitors who were looking the far more likely to score and the most bizarre spot of pinball in the Ballymena box you're likely to see all season somehow didn't yield a goal. The closest Institute came in amongst the melee were two shots blocked on the line by first Andrew Burns and then Declan Carville.
28 minutes in the away side were handed the chance to go ahead when Ervin brought down Gareth Brown inside the box, and despite some questionable officiating all game, there were no complaints with this decision. McCready stepped up to take the penalty and despite Glendinning going the right way, the penalty was slotted home well into the bottom corner.
Glendinning was getting a good work out in the first half and saved extremely well again to tip Colm McLaughlin's low effort round the post, before arguably his save of the half in denying Brown kept Ballymena in the game. In between those Institute chances The Sky Blues had a penalty appeal of their own waved away by Evan Boyce as Adam Lecky looked to be held back in the box by Dean Curry, but with nothing given United went into the break trailing by a goal to nil.
Ballymena had to come out and show a reaction in the second half and after a bright start they were awarded a penalty of their own just four minutes in when Lecky was brought down by Brown after a bit of a mix up at the back for Institute. Andy McGrory took the penalty and emphatically dispatched it down the middle for his seventh goal of the season.
With Ballymena now back on level terms against a side with just one league win all season, the expectation would've been for United to kick on, and whilst the hosts did dominate play after the equaliser, Institute still carried a threat. This threat was shown just three minutes after McGrory's goal when Brown curled one just wide, while at the other end Carville passed up a great opportunity from close range when he couldn't get the ball fully under control and his attempt was blocked.
McCready was proving to be dangerous up top for the North West side and he manufactured a chance for himself well, with Glendinning getting down well again to save. It wasn't only Glendinning who looked impressive between the sticks as Lecky almost headed United in front, but for a cracking diving save by Brown. He saved again with 20 minutes to go when Carville's deflected shot initially looked to be heading in, but it was deceiving as the ball ended up comfortably in Brown's arms.
Ballymena's somewhat large amount of possession of the ball went in the final 10 minutes as it was a sharper Institute side doing most of the running to find a winner. The move of the match from Stute saw a string of passes end with Conor Tourish striking narrowly over. Tourish's chance was followed by McGready going close. United continuously backed off the forward allowing him to curl an effort towards the top corner, only to be kept out by another top stop from Glendinning.
In amongst the away side's openings Ballymena came agonisingly close to winning the game when sub Ross Lavery found Shane McGinty and his rasping volley came back off the crossbar, before more United penalty appeals for a push on McGrory fell on deaf ears. In four minutes of added time Jamie McIntyre and Aidan McCauley both struck wide on the counter attack for Institute, but neither side could find a winning goal as United will feel it's more dropped points at home.
Ballymena United host Linfield in the Danske Bank Premiership on Tuesday evening, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Jonathan Addis ( 30), Shane McGinty, Steven McCullough, Kenneth Kane ( Ross Lavery 62), Andrew Burns ( 31), Declan Carville ( Tony Kane 75), Andrew McGrory, Jude Winchester, Jim Ervin, Adam Lecky.

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Ryan Mayse, James Knowles, Kofi Balmer, Reece Glendinning.