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Saturday 24th April v. Coleraine (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm


Uploaded Saturday, 27th Feb, 2021 at 18:06

Date: Saturday, 27th February, 2021; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: N/A;
Portadown [1] [1]
Ballymena United [1] [2]
Venue: Shamrock Park; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Steven Gregg; Assistant 1: Gareth Eakin; Assistant 2: Gavin Hegarty; 4th Official: Louise Thompson;
[1-0] WARDE, Sam (28 mins), [1-1] McCARTAN, Seamus (41 mins), [1-2] REDMAN, Ross (83 mins)

BALLYMENA United picked up their first win in a month after coming from behind to beat Portadown 2-1 at Shamrock Park this afternoon.
United made four changes to the side that narrowly lost out to Cliftonville in midweek, with a defensive personnel crisis leading to Ross Redman and Trai Hume partnering at centre half. Jude Winchester captained the side for the first time.
Looking to end a run of five straight defeats, Ballymena came out quick at Shamrock Park and had a glut of chances in the opening 20 minutes. Inside a couple of minutes captain Winchester forced Jacob Carney into a good save to tip the ball over the crossbar, before Ryan Waide missed a gilt-edged chance. Great running from Josh Kelly got him to the goal line and he cut the ball back for Waide who was in acres of space six yards out, but he somehow hit the ball wide. Ballymena continued to probe with a Shay McCartan shot being turned goal wards by Paul McElroy, but he couldn't keep it under the bar and similarly a Winchester shot came off Ben Wylie, but ended up inches wide.
Portadown offered the odd piece of danger at the other end, but nothing to overly work the visitor's makeshift back four, while at the other end Waide headed wide and Carney had to scramble the ball off the line after a cross deflected off Eamon Scannell.
Having dominated the game from kick off, Ballymena will have struggled to believe what they were seeing when the Ports opened the scoring on 28 minutes. Some good play from the Mid-Ulster side ended with Ben Tilney's cross finding Lee Bonis, and he teed up Sam Warde who put a well hit and well placed side footed effort into the top corner.
The teams traded chances towards the end of the half as Winchester had a low effort gathered by Carney and Bonis narrowly missed heading home from close range.
Having failed to score when dominating, as luck would have it Ballymena's equaliser came as Portadown were beginning to see more of the ball. McCartan picked the ball up around 40 yards from goal and typically drove at the the home side's defence. After evading Scannell, McCartan pulled the trigger just inside the box and his daisy cutting shot across goal neatly nestled into the bottom corner.
The goal gave United a new lease of life and they could easily have been ahead before half-time. A minute after equalising, Sean Graham burst down the left and delivered a ball to the back post for Andy McGrory, whose free header was straight at Carney, but he still had to pull off a good stop. Shortly after the McGrory chance, McCartan again ran at the Ports defence, in an almost carbon copy effort to his goal, but this time Carney saved, as an entertaining half with an abundance of chances ended level.
It was the home side who started better in the second half, with Ross Glendinning denying Bonis and Tilney, before Adam Salley struck a good chance wide. Ballymena themselves forced another two saves out of Carney, when first McCartan, and then Winchester, had efforts stopped. On 67 minutes Portadown had a huge chance to retake the lead through Ben Guy. Redman lost the ball in his own half and it allowed Guy to run in one on one, but he was denied by a top drawer stop from Glendinning's leg. From the resulting corner Warde had an effort go through a sea of bodies in the box, but Glendinning held it well.
Come the final 20 minutes the Ports had been having narrowly the better of the play for most of the half, but still couldn't convert, including a big chance for Bonis, but he couldn't send his header home. After Winchester had yet another attempt stopped by Carney, the 'keeper on loan from Manchester United delivered what felt like his 100th save of the day to keep out Waide with a near post strike.
On 83 minutes, with an end to end game still in session, Ballymena completed the turnaround as former Ports man Redman scored in his hometown. McGrory's cross from the left landed on top of a crowd of players, including 'keeper Carney, but he was unable to get anything on it and the ball dropped for Redman who slammed it home on the half volley.
Late on Portadown probed for a leveller, the closest they came coming from a Stephen Murray volley which flew over. In added time Tony Kane came on to make his 350th Sky Blue appearance, and he helped United see out the win to finally pick up a point in February, and grab a win after five straight defeats.
Ballymena United are at home to Cliftonville in the Danske Bank Premiership on Tuesday evening, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Trai Hume ( 76), Andrew McGrory, Sean Graham, Ross Redman, Joshua Kelly, Ben Wylie ( James Knowles 90), Jude Winchester, Ryan Waide ( Joseph McCready 81), Paul McElroy, Seamus McCartan ( Tony Kane 90).

Subs not used: Dylan Graham, Jim Ervin, Spencer Beattie, Craig Farquhar.