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

Uploaded Wednesday, 27th Nov, 2019 at 07:15

Date: Tuesday, 26th November, 2019; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1172;
Ballymena United [1] [1]
Linfield [2] [2]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Ian McNabb; Assistant 1: Stephen Bell; Assistant 2: Mark O'Brien; 4th Official: Peter McGrath;
Goals:
[0-1] MILLAR, Kirk (10 mins), [0-2] McGIVERN, Ryan (37 mins), [1-2] LECKY, Adam (39 mins)

A DOMINANT second half performance wasn't enough to prevent Ballymena United from falling to a 2-1 defeat to champions Linfield at the Showgrounds on Tuesday evening.
After a fairly lifeless opening ten minutes to the game, Linfield soon woke the match up by going ahead through Kirk Millar. Shayne Lavery embarked on long run through the United defence which ended with him putting the ball across goal for Millar, who couldn't miss from close range.
The Sky Blues reacted well and within a couple of minutes Tony Kane saw a free kick drift narrowly wide of the right hand post. There was little to report in the twenty or so minutes after the opener, with a couple of dangerous balls in from Joel Cooper coming to nothing and the same player striking well wide, while at the other end Tony Kane sent a tame effort straight at Rohan Ferguson. On the half hour mark Ballymena came close to levelling when Andy McGrory fizzed an inviting ball across Linfield's six yard box, with the ball somehow evading Kenny Kane and two defenders on the line before Linfield cleared. Less than a minute later Cooper broke on the counter and went from the edge of his own box to Ballymena's, but could only fire his effort over.
With eight minutes left in the half Ross Glendinning pulled off a good stop to keep Stephen Fallon out, but from the resulting corner the Blues doubled their lead. Millar's corner was met by Ryan McGivern who was able to get his head on the ball amongst a crowd of Sky Blue shirts and he saw his header find the back of the net, with a touch off Jim Ervin on its way.
It was now a monumental task facing Ballymena as they looked to end an eight game winless run in the league, but just two minutes after going two down, United pulled one back. From nothing, Jonny Addis put a ball in over the top from just inside his own half and it found Adam Lecky who had stayed onside, and with no one near him he finished past Ferguson to make it 1-2 at the break.
If Linfield had managed to edge the first half in terms of play, it was all United in the second half, with Linfield rarely carrying an attacking threat all half. Despite that, the first chance fell the visitor's way when Andrew Waterworth outmuscled Ervin on the by-line and put a ball back across goal for the arriving Millar, who could've done better as he placed his shot wide. A glorious opportunity passed Ballymena by on 55 minutes when Tony Kane produced a pin-point cross to the back post for Declan Carville, with surely any decent connection on the ball sending it home, but Carville failed to connect cleanly and the chance went.
Another good stop from Glendinning to deny Jamie Mulgrew from distance before the hour mark was one of those rare occasions Linfield got forward and shortly afterwards Jimmy Callacher blocked a Carville effort from six yards out, before Kenny Kane sent a header wide. United turned to Ross Lavery from the bench with fifteen minutes left as he replaced Carville, but three minutes afterwards Cooper could've sealed the game for the Blues when he was played in by Bastien Hery, but Cooper could only fire miles over from a good position.
In amongst United's pressure James Knowles came on for his first appearance in nine months as he replaced Tony Kane. Linfield managed to deal with more United crosses before the away side were reduced to 10 men at the start of three additional minutes when Hery received his second booking and was sent off for kicking out at Kofi Balmer.
In those three added on minutes a shot from Addis deflected to the feet of Shane McGinty, but he was denied from a tight angle by Ferguson. With everyone up for the corner, including Glendinning, Lavery almost equalised with the last kick of the game, but he could only find the arms of Ferguson, as Linfield held on to see out the win. Ultimately another defeat for Ballymena, but strong performances throughout the team against the champions showed signs of hope for the weeks ahead.
Ballymena United make the trip to face Warrenpoint Town at Milltown Playing Fields on Saturday, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane ( 40 James Knowles 82), Jonathan Addis, Shane McGinty ( 15), Steven McCullough, Kenneth Kane, Declan Carville ( Ross Lavery 77), Andrew McGrory, Kofi Balmer ( 29), Jim Ervin, Adam Lecky.

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Ryan Mayse, Reece Glendinning, Leo Brown, Ethan Warnock.