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Saturday 17th October v. Coleraine (away) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Danske Bank Premiership fixtures announced

ODENSE BK (Denmark) [2004/2005 - UEFA Intertoto Cup First Round]
Overview | First Leg | Second Leg | "I Was There"

SCARCELY in the history of football can a scoreless draw have prompted such scenes of wild jubilation.
Then again, it's not every day that an Irish League club holds a top European side in its own back yard.
The end result of Ballymena United's astounding performance will only be fully determined after the second leg of their Intertoto Cup tie with Odense Boldklub this Saturday.
But for now at least, the Sky Blues can bask in the glory of one of the greatest results in the club's 76-year history.
Ballymena's newly-appointed captain Gary Smyth, a veteran of countless European campaigns with Glenavon and Glentoran admitted: "It must be one of the best ever performances by an Irish League side in Europe, certainly in recent years."
For manager Kenny Shiels, it marked a new high point in his three-and-a-half year tenure in charge, during which he has taken the club from the depths of the first division to the lofty heights of continential competition.
"It was a fantastic result and performance by us and who can argue that we didn't deserve it? I couldn't ask for any more from my players - every one of them played their part.
"We had to defend well and soak up a lot of pressure but they all did their jobs well and the result is a shot-in-the-arm for Irish League football as well as ourselves," added Kenny.
United chairman Robert Cupples danced with delight on the terraces before embracing every Ballymena player at the final whistle. "It was a fantastic day for the club and it was a reward for all the hard work that has been put in by so many people for Ballymena United," he added.
Every one of Ballymena's players turned in top drawer performances the two who really stood out were central defender Gordon Simms and goalkeeper Robert Robinson.
Simms continued his stunning form from the tail end of last season with countless clearing headers and crucial blocks and his signature on a three-year contract this summer looks an excellent piece of business on Ballymena's part.
Behind him, Robinson produced a string of outstanding saves and United survived a second half onslaught and as pressure grew on those in front of him, the former Linfield keeper remained the coolest man on the pitch.
Simms was complemented perfectly in the centre of defence by the experience of Smyth and the youthfulness of Albert Watson, while full-backs John O'Loughlin and Ciaran Donaghy coped well with the threat from the flanks.
Midfielders Garth Scates, Oran Kearney and Ruari McClean performed capably to break up many Odense attacks, while up front Shea Campbell and Justin McBride ran themselves into the ground. Even when they were withdrawn, the diminutive pairing of Eddie Hill and Gareth McLaughlin, continued their good work.
But if United's players were on top of their game, they were matched all the way by the Sky Blues' staggering support.
Almost 100 Ballymena fans were among the 1,197 attendance at Odense's Atlekistadion and they created 90 minutes if incessant noise as the more restrained Danes looked on in a mixture of bewilderment and admiration.
The Ballymena supporters' behaviour was impeccable, their backing of their team unquestionable and they got a reward which no-one in their wildest dreams could have forecast - a result which reduced grown men to tears.
Those same fans, who had probably feared a heavy defeat, could scarcely believe what they were seeing as United took the game to the home side in the opening 20 minutes with Robinson a virtual spectator - a stark contrast to what was to follow.
Indeed, Oran Kearney went close to scoring only Ballymena's second ever away European goal in the eight minute. Put clear on the left by Campbell, the midfielder made a trademark burst into the area before firing a shot from an acute angle which was turned behind by Odense's Polish international keeper Arek Onyszko.
Robinson remained untroubled in the first half but it was a different story after the break as the Danes seized control of the game.
The Ballymena keeper had already made a good save with his legs from Soren Berg before substitute Steffen Hojer went even closer on 56 minutes when his close-range header cannonned off the crossbar with Robinson, for once, helpless.
The same player was left holding his head in disbelief as his goal-bound effort from a corner by former Norwich City defender Steen Nedergaard was booted off the goal-line by Justin McBride.
Robinson kept his best save for the 62nd minute with a world class stop, diving to his left to brilliantly turn Kenneth Moller Pederson's 30-yard effort around the post.
Odense's frustration grew, as they continued to be denied, while Ballymena might have sneaked a winner two minutes from time when Simms' header from a Smyth long throw landed on top of the net.
The final whistle brought scenes of unparalleled celebration as United's players received a standing ovation from their remarkable travelling support.
The last word went to defender Ciaran Donaghy, who suggested a new advertising slogan for Odense's main sponsors Carlsberg.
Carlsberg don't do 0-0 draws but if they did they'd probably be the best 0-0 draws in the world!"he quipped. Ballymena fans, who enjoyed two unforgettable days in Denmark, won't disagree...
Report by Stephen Alexander - Ballymena Times - 22/06/2004

Date: Sunday, 20th June, 2004
Competition: UEFA Intertoto Cup First Round First Leg
Venue: Odense Atletikstadion
Attendance: 1,197
Final Score: Odense BK 0-0 Ballymena United
Odense BK: Arek Onyszko, Steen Nedergaard, Fernando Derveld, Jan Sønksen, Mwape Miti (sub Steffen Højer 46), Søren Berg, Thomas Lindrup (sub Kenneth Møller Pederson 60), Andrew Tembo (sub Carsten Hemmingsen 71), Jacob Gregersen, Esben Hansen, Martin Borre. Subs (not used): Martin Jensen, Michael Larsen.
Ballymena United: Robert Robinson, John O'Loughlin, Ciaran Donaghy, Gordon Simms, Albert Watson, Gary Smyth, Garth Scates, Oran Kearney, Shea Campbell (sub Eddie Hill 74), Justin McBride (sub Gareth McLaughlin 74), Ruari McClean. Sub (not used): William McFrederick.
Referee: Jose Luis Mengual Prades (Andorra)