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


Uploaded Tuesday, 16th Mar, 2021 at 22:00

Date: Tuesday, 16th March, 2021; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: N/A;
Warrenpoint Town [1] [1]
Ballymena United [1] [1]
Venue: Milltown Playing Fields; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Jamie Robinson; Assistant 1: Andrew Nethery; Assistant 2: Jamie Carnduff; 4th Official: Barry Monaghan;
[0-1] McCREADY, Joseph (8 mins), [1-1] CARROLL, Adam (38 mins)

THE first meeting of two this week between Ballymena United and Warrenpoint ended level as the sides played out a 1-1 draw at Milltown on Tuesday night.
With United continuing to juggle games every Tuesday and Saturday, there were four changes to the starting team that faced Portadown, including rests for Saturday's goalscorers Paul McElroy and Shay McCartan, who were on the bench.
It was a fast paced start at Milltown and inside three minutes Ballymena could easily have found themselves ahead. Tony Kane's whipped free kick from wide found Trai Hume in acres of space in the box, but the returning defender could only glance a header wide.
Five minutes later Ballymena did find the opening goal of the game as Joe McCready produced a moment of magic with a stunning goal. Ben Wylie and Jude Winchester shared some great play between them in the left corner and Winchester showed quick feet to find McCready who did the rest. From a tight angle just inside the box McCready opened up his body and curled a delightful effort into the far top corner.
The Braidmen's lead was almost wiped out within two minutes when The Point struck the post. Alan O'Sullivan laid the ball out to Ryan Swan who was arriving into the box on the right, and after no flag went up he saw his shot come back off the woodwork and into Jordan Williamson's grateful arms.
Ballymena continued to hold the upper hand after a frantic couple of minutes and probably should've doubled their lead on twenty-one minutes. Ryan Waide saw a shot from distance half-saved by Gabriel Sava, with the rebound falling for Winchester. Despite Sava making a fantastic stop to deny the midfielder, Winchester will surely feel he should've made it 2-0. Even after having a guilt edge chance pass him by, Winchester was continuing the fine form he's shown in recent weeks and after the hosts went to sleep on a corner, the midfield saw an effort come back off the post.
Warrenpoint were always dangerous when they attacked and a bright five minute spell eventually yielded an equaliser. Before the goal, an O'Sullivan ball across goal somehow wasn't turned home by Swan at close range, with United finally clearing. Ballymena had an even bigger scare shortly afterwards when Sean Graham and Williamson got their wires crossed. Graham played the ball back to Williamson, but was unaware the 'keeper wasn't on his line, and as everyone watched on helplessly the ball trickled inches wide from what would've been a disasterous own goal.
However, in the long run the Sky Blues weren't that fortunate as Warrenpoint levelled from the corner. Kealan Dillon's cross was into a dangerous area and Adam Carroll was there to nod home his first league goal this season.
Ballymena tried to retake the lead before the break when McCready found Kane on the edge of the box and he had time to pick his spot but was denied by Sava, as an entertaining half ended level.
Warrenpoint started the better of the two in the second half and had United on the ropes on a couple of occasions early on. First, Daniel Wallace's low ball across goal looked certain to be finished at the back post by a free Luke Gallagher, but an awkward bobble took the ball past his boot. Then, Carroll showed great pace to get in behind Ross Redman and his strike on the bounce moved in the air causing Williamson to spill, but then gather well.
After McCready had given Ballymena's defence a breather by hitting a low shot which Sava easily saved, Warrenpoint will be wondering how they didn't take the lead on fifty-eight minutes. Another low ball from the left was turned goalwards by Swan, only for Williamson to save well. The rebound fell nicely for Carroll who simply had to score, but instead his shot came off the inside of the post and across the goal-line to the other post, were for the second time Ballymena were thankful for the ball to go straight into Williamson's hands, just before the ball crossed the line.
After surviving the closest of shaves, the Sky Blues were probably happy for the game to become scrappy in the ten minutes that followed. David Jeffrey looked to try and inject something into Ballymena in the second half when he brought McElroy into the game in place of McCready, before McCartan replaced Ben Wylie.
As the game entered the final ten minutes both sides sensed a chance to take all three points, but neither had the quality in the final third to make it happen, as a game of two halves ended in a fair draw to extend Ballymena's unbeaten run to six games.
Ballymena United travel to Milltown again on Saturday afternoon to face Warrenpoint Town, with the game being shown live on the BBC Sport NI website and BBC iPlayer.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Jordan Williamson, Tony Kane, Ross Redman, Jude Winchester ( 90), Ryan Waide, Trai Hume ( 89), Conor Keeley, Joshua Kelly, Sean Graham, Ben Wylie ( Seamus McCartan 75), Joseph McCready ( Paul McElroy 69).

Subs not used: Ross Glendinning, Owen McKeown, Ryan Harpur, Jim Ervin, Spencer Beattie.