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Uploaded Saturday, 29th Feb, 2020 at 20:49

Date: Saturday, 29th February, 2020; Competition: Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup - Quarter-Final; Attendance: N/A;
Ballinamallard United [0] [0]
Ballymena United [1] [2]
Venue: Ferney Park; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Keith Kennedy; Assistant 1: Gareth Eakin; Assistant 2: Richard Storey; 4th Official: Lee Tavinder;
Goals:
[0-1] KELLY, Joshua (16 mins), [0-2] KANE, Tony (pen 75 mins)

BALLYMENA United made the leap into the Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup semi-final's after a hard fought 2-0 victory over Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park.
United made the long trip down to Co. Fermanagh to meet last years finalist's and made three changes to the side that drew with Cliftonville last week, with Cathair Friel, Josh Kelly and James Knowles in for the cup-tied Joe McCready, injured Ryan Harpur and Leroy Millar.
Before kick-off a minutes silence was held for IFA Football Operations Manager Craig Stanfield following his untimely death last weekend at just 50 years of age.
The Mallards' pitch held up well for kick-off considering the heavy rain and sleet and it was the hosts who started the better. Early on Ryan O'Reilly had a goalbound shot blocked by his own man before O'Reilly again forced Ross Glendinning into a good save from distance. From the resulting the ball fell to O'Reilly, but at the back post he turned the ball over.
Ballymena started to gain a foothold in the game after those chances and on 16 minutes they went ahead. Adam Lecky played a great ball down the right wing for Friel to run onto. He did well to get the ball into the box where Josh Kelly was waiting, with Kelly seeing his first time effort loop over the Mallards' 'keeper and into the top corner.
United had a chance to go further ahead a few minutes later when Anthony Kane lined up a free kick from almost 30 yards, but John Connolly got down well to make the save. As the half progressed Ballinamallard came back into the game after a spell of Ballymena dominance, as the hosts passed the ball about well on an ever worsening surface. The Mallards' dangerman Ryan Campbell did well to work himself a shooting opportunity from a slight angle, but it was well saved by Glendinning.
In the final minutes of the half both sides had openings. The best fell to the Sky Blues when Jonny Addis found Friel who played in Jude Winchester, but as he tried to slot the ball under Connolly, the 'keeper saved smartly with his legs. With the last kick of the half Ryan Morris tried his luck with a free kick from well out, but it flew over the crossbar as United went into half-time ahead.
Following heavy rain just before half-time the pitch was almost just a field of mud by the time the second half got underway. The hosts started the half strongly and after Ballymena failed to clear their lines twice, Steven McCullough made a last ditch block to keep out Christopher Kelly. Winchester made way for Kofi Balmer on 59 minutes, with Balmer coming on and doing a fine job as a holding midfielder. The change came at a time when Ballymena were struggling to get hold of the ball, which was now regularly sticking to the ground, making passing difficult.
As the last 20 minutes approached it was mostly Ballinamallard causing the problems as they really took the game to Ballymena. A low ball in from sub Darragh McBrien was turned goalwards by O'Reilly, forcing Balmer to hook the ball off the line.
United's large and vocal travelling support was giving off a slightly nervous vibe until the 74th minute when Morris brought down Lecky in the box and Keith Kennedy pointed to the spot. Captain Kane stepped up and despite Connolly going the right way he dispatched the spot kick into the top right corner to give the Braidmen breathing space.
The Championship side almost pulled one back instantly when McBrien fired just wide from the right hand side of the box, before at the other end Friel almost put the game out of sight when he was found by Kelly, but he was denied by an outstanding save from Connolly to see the game end 2-0.
Credit has to be given to both sides for some decent passages of play in awful conditions, but its Ballymena who progress to set up a huge semi-final tie with rivals Coleraine.
Ballymena United travel to Stangmore Park on Tuesday evening to face Dungannon Swifts in the Danske Bank Premiership, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Jonathan Addis, Scot Whiteside, Cathair Friel ( 84), James Knowles, Steven McCullough, Jude Winchester ( Kofi Balmer 59), Adam Lecky, Reece Glendinning ( 88), Joshua Kelly.

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Kenneth Kane, Andrew Burns, Leroy Millar, Ethan Warnock, Kyle Owens.