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


Uploaded Tuesday, 2nd Mar, 2021 at 22:15

Date: Tuesday, 2nd March, 2021; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [0] [1]
Cliftonville [0] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Andrew Davey; Assistant 1: George Argyropoulos; Assistant 2: Paul Robinson; 4th Official: Mark Dillon;
[0-1] CURRAN, Ryan (pen 76 mins), [1-1] McCARTAN, Seamus (85 mins)

BALLYMENA United and Cliftonville's second meeting in a week ended level as the sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Showgrounds on Tuesday evening.
One change for United from the weekend saw Joe McCready come into the starting XI in place of Ryan Waide, while Jordan Williamson was back in the squad after suspension. Ross Glendinning kept the number 1 shirt, bringing up 150 Sky Blue appearances, while Josh Kelly registered 50 not out.
Much like the reverse fixture at Solitude a week ago, there was nothing to split the sides in a quiet and fairly drab first half. Ballymena started reasonably well and within three minutes had the ball in the back of the net after Conor Keeley headed in Andy McGrory's corner, but the ball had gone out of play on its way in. Jude Winchester went close numerous times in Mid-Ulster on Saturday and tested the 'keeper again early on, with his well struck effort from outside the box gathered by Aaron McCarey.
The Sky Blues' passing in the opening twenty minutes was good and a neat move almost resulted in Cliftonville putting the ball through their own net. McCready, Ben Wylie and Sean Graham linked up well before the latter put a danger ball across goal, and Ryan O'Reilly did well to narrowly turn it behind for a corner. The Reds' first meaningful attempt didn't come until twenty minutes in, as Paul O'Neill skipped past Kelly and had a go, but it was easy pickings for Glendinning.
If United had controlled the opening twenty minutes, the remainder of the half saw the away side with the majority of the ball, but for the most part both goalkeeper's could've taken a seat in the empty stand's, with neither really tested.
Some decent Reds' play gave O'Neill the chance to put a ball across goal, but it was cut out by Graham. At the end of the half a mix up between Glendinning and McGrory gave Cliftonville a corner, but it was headed over by O'Neill at the near post, as a half that certainly won't live long in the memory ended scoreless.
After a pretty poor and eventless first 45 minutes, the opening twenty minutes of the second half was much of the same, with next to nothing happening. Both sides, although more so Cliftonville, were able to get crosses into the box, but none of them were coming to anything at all. On 68 minutes Winchester teed up Wylie on the edge and his first time shot was spilled by McCarey, but he gathered it second time round. After Chris Curran had struck wide and McCready and McCartan both tried and failed with spectacular acrobatic efforts within seconds of each other, from nowhere an exciting final fifteen minutes played out.
It looked like another game that would just get away from Ballymena when on 76 minutes Cliftonville were awarded a penalty. A long through ball from O'Neill caught everyone out and was latched onto by sub Daire O'Connor who was brought down by Glendinning, who was cautioned. Ryan Curran stepped up and sent Glendinning the wrong way for 0-1.
Ryan Waide and Ross Redman were introduced after the goal and helped United spring into action in an impressive final spell. Winchester had an effort with plenty of venom sail just over, but five minutes from time The Braidmen deservedly leveled through a stunning McCartan special. United did really well to keep hold of the ball down the left with Redman and Winchester, and the former broke into the box before cutting the ball back for McCartan 25 yards from goal. From there McCartan did the rest, as he set himself before firing an unstoppable effort past McCarey, who had no chance.
Not content at being level, Ballymena chased a winner and it almost came when Winchester's ball in was delightfully flicked goalwards by Waide at the near post, but it was deflected out for a corner. In added time both teams were left aggrieved with the officials with Winchester through on goal only to be questionably flagged for offside, while a Cliftonville attack was stopped for the ball apparently having gone out of play, as it ended 1-1. An uninspiring 75 minutes followed by a thrilling climax, with both sides deserving off their point apiece.
Ballymena United are at home again on Saturday afternoon when they host Larne in the Danske Bank Premiership, live on the BBC Sport NI website and the BBC iPlayer, kicking off at 5:30pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning ( 75), Jude Winchester, Paul McElroy ( 32), Seamus McCartan ( 51), Andrew McGrory, Trai Hume, Conor Keeley, Joshua Kelly, Sean Graham ( Ryan Waide 76), Ben Wylie, Joseph McCready ( Ross Redman 76).

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Tony Kane, James Knowles, Jim Ervin, Spencer Beattie.