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

Linfield MATCH REPORT

Uploaded Saturday, 27th Mar, 2021 at 18:36

Date: Saturday, 27th March, 2021; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [4] [5]
Dungannon Swifts [0] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Steven Gregg; Assistant 1: Ryan Kelsey; Assistant 2: Rachel Greer; 4th Official: Diarmuid Harrigan;
Goals:
[1-0] KELLY, Joshua (5 mins), [2-0] McELROY, Paul (16 mins), [3-0] HUME, Trai (43 mins), [4-0] McELROY, Paul (45 mins), [4-1] GALLAGHER, Ben (62 mins), [5-1] KANE, Tony (pen 74 mins)

FOUR first half goals helped Ballymena United cruise to 5-1 win over bottom side Dungannon at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
Unsurprisingly David Jeffrey looked to keep things close to the same as the team that downed Champions Linfield on Tuesday night, with one solitary change seeing Trai Hume come back in ahead of Joe McCready.
Buoyed on from the mid-week win, The Braidmen started well and gave The Swifts, who came off a big win in the week themselves, no time to settle. It took Ballymena just five minutes to lead against the bottom side and it similar to Tuesday's winner with a tight call for the ball crossing the line. Ross Redman's deep, swinging corner was met by Josh Kelly at the back post and his close range header looked to have been cleared off the line by Michael Carvill, but after some thinking time the officials adjudged it to have crossed the line.
Ballymena kept up the pressure after the opener, looking sharp and at it from the off. Within sixteen minutes it was 2-0 with a fine goal. Hume drove forward and from just inside the Swifts' half slid a perfectly weighted ball through for Paul McElroy who did the rest. The former Dungannon man held off Matthew Smyth before rounding the keeper with lovely feet and slamming the ball home for his ninth of the season.
It probably should've got even better a couple of minutes later for United when Smyth flicked a through ball on, which brought McElroy back onside, but with just the 'keeper to beat his dink over Sam Johnston went wide.
Following a fast first twenty minutes, Dungannon were finally able to halt the Ballymena surge for a while and start to slowly work their way into the game. It was still Ballymena looking far the more likely however, and a Ryan Waide cross that came off Ethan McGee almost looped in at the far post, with Johnston scrambling for it, but it went just wide. From Dungannon's first corner they had their first real chance of the game on thirty seven minutes, with captain Dougie Wilson looping the second ball in over the crossbar.
After a couple of half glimpses for Shay McCartan he had a golden chance to make it three when he was played in by Conor Keeley who was well up the pitch, but McCartan's effort was well saved by Johnston.
If the visitors had thought they'd weathered the storm until half-time, they were wrong as Ballymena netted twice in the last three minutes of the half to end the game as a contest. The third came from another Redman corner, who added yet another assist to his growing tally. This time his set piece into a crowded goalmouth landed at the feet of Hume, who neatly tucked the ball home for a richly deserved first Showgrounds goal for his hometown club. The fourth came in added time as Dean Shiels' side's misery was compounded by a costly goalkeeping error. A pass back to Johnston was met by an extremely heavy touch from the 'keeper, which allowed McElroy to pounce and stroll the ball over the line uncontested, with United good value their first half procession.
After being badly beaten in the first half, to Dungannon's credit they came out strong for the second period in battering wind and rain. Despite the away side's improvement the first couple of chances still fell United's way. Owen McKeown, who was extremely solid throughout, had a shot easily gathered by Johnston, before a wonderfully worked team move ended with a Kelly and McCartan one two, with the latter shooting just wide.
For a fifteen minute spell in the second half, the County Tyrone side were much the better team as Ballymena's concentration levels looked to have slightly lapsed. A tidy solo run from substitute Ben Gallagher ended with Ross Glendinning making a good stop from the well hit shot. Seconds later, ex-United man Ryan Mayse had a great chance to score at the back post, but got his effort completely wrong and the chance was gone.
On sixty-two minutes Dungannon pulled a goal back, which was probably deserved based on their strong spell. A cross from the right from Mayse was easily met by the head of Gallagher who reduced the deficit to three. It was almost 4-2 shortly after as United, still a bit out of sorts, were thankful for a goal line block from Hume to deny Mayse.
An injury to Conor Keeley forced the defender off on sixty-six minutes, and he was replaced by Jonny Addis, who made a welcome return from injury. In the final twenty minutes Ballymena picked it up again and soon had a fifth from the penalty spot, as quick feet from Waide saw the forward brought down by Carvill. The penalty was delayed after some off the ball antics from Mayse for the third time in the game warranted a yellow card, but the wait made no difference to Tony Kane who sent Johnston the wrong way to make it five.
Ryan Harpur and Spencer Beattie were introduced for the final fifteen minutes and in those minutes McCartan, keen to get in on the act, was denied by Johnston from at least forty yards, before he had an attempt from the edge of the box drift inches wide.
Late on Kane somehow hit the bar with a free kick from nigh on the halfway line, but in the end The Sky Blues settled for an impressive and emphatic 5-1 win to move into the top six in the table.
Ballymena United host Carrick Rangers on Tuesday evening in the Danske Bank Premiership, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Ross Redman, Owen McKeown, Paul McElroy ( Spencer Beattie 77), Seamus McCartan, Ryan Waide, Trai Hume, Jim Ervin, Conor Keeley ( Jonathan Addis 66), Joshua Kelly ( Ryan Harpur 75 83).

Subs not used: Dylan Graham, James Knowles, Ben Wylie, Joseph McCready.