Home News Fixtures Tables Book Tickets Squad Commercial Info History Shop Under 20s
Saturday 3rd December v. Cliftonville (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Carrick Rangers MATCH REPORT

Odds BK (Norway) [2017/2018 - UEFA Europa League First Qualifying Round]
Overview | First Leg | Second Leg | Memories

AFTER thirteen years; Ballymena United finally returned to European competition in 2017, in the UEFA Europa League.
David Jeffrey and his side managed to sneak into fourth place in the league on the final day of the season with a 1-1 draw away to a Coleraine side who had already qualified for the Europa League.
This meant that United would be at home in the semi-final of the Europa League Play-Offs and, if they won this game, they'd also be at home for the final. The semi-final against Dungannon Swifts finished 5-2, after goals from Tony Kane (2), Joe McKinney, Johnny McMurray and Kyle Owens, while Glenavon defeated Cliftonville at Solitude to reach the final. The final was a much tougher affair, United defeating the Lurgan Blues 2-1 at the Showgrounds, Cathair Friel putting the Sky Blues ahead in the 53rd minute, Rhys Marshall levelling the scores in the 67th minute, and Kevin Braniff writing his name into history with an 80th minute winner to secure the UEFA Europa League spot.
The draw, made a month later, threw up a tie against Odds Ballklubb of Norway, who had qualified by finished 3rd in their previous season in the Norwegian Eliteserien.
Commonly known as Odd, our oppositions colours were black and white, and it was a trip to Skien for the first leg of the game, with around 70 fans making the journey to Norway.
The first leg was played on 29th June, 2017 at the Skagerak Arena, Skien, with an attendance of 2969. United fans were out in full force in the town centre before the game, and were praised by the local authorities for their good natured fun, and were treated incredibly well by local businesses.
The game got off to a horrific start, Stefan Mladenovic scoring in the first minute of the game. United played well and showed some very encouraging signs in the first half, going in just the single goal down at half-time, but the second half was a different story, Martin Broberg scoring in the 53th minute from a rebounded penalty which had rattled off the crossbar. In the last play of the game United were dealt a hammer blow, substitute Sigurd Haugen cutting inside on the edge of the box and firing a low drive past a stranded Ross Glendinnnig.
It may have been a disappointing night as far as the result went, but the Sky Blue faithful made the most of the chance to have a few tipples with the locals and make sure they enjoyed the away trip.
The home leg was a much tighter affair, the sides remaining level until the 79th minute, a corner crossed into the box unfortunate to come off the head of Leroy Millar, who was surrounded by a sea of players, and into his own goal.
The finishing touches were put on the game when substitute Riku Riski beat the offside trap and played in Odds captain Steffen Hagen who tapped into the empty goal to please the small yet boisterous Odds supporters.
However, all in all a fantastic European venture which has left the success starved United fans hungry for more.
Our opposition, Odd, won the both legs of their second round qualifying tie against FC Vaduz 1-0. The third qualifying round seen them grab an away goal as they lost 2-1 to Dinamo Zagreb, but unfortunately it proved worthless in the end as the home leg ended in a 0-0 draw. We wish all our friends in Skien all the best for the reason of their season and in future European competition.
Review by Paul Irwin