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Saturday 30th October v. Larne (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Cliftonville MATCH REPORT

Uploaded Saturday, 28th Aug, 2021 at 18:19

Date: Saturday, 28th August, 2021; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 160;
Warrenpoint Town [1] [2]
Ballymena United [1] [1]
Venue: Milltown Playing Fields; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Tony Clarke; Assistant 1: Shane Corrigan; Assistant 2: Gavin Hegarty; 4th Official: Louise Thompson;
Goals:
[0-1] McELROY, Paul (pen 2 mins), [1-1] WILLIAMSON, Jordan (og 43 mins), [2-1] DILLON, Kealan (pen 47 mins)

10 MAN Ballymena United's 2021/22 campaign got off to a poor start as they suffered a 2-1 opening day defeat at Warrenpoint.
David Jeffrey handed debuts to Lee Chapman, Dan Bramall, David Parkhouse and Dougie Wilson, whilst fellow summer recruit Chris Rodgers made his second debut after eight years away from the club.
Prior to kick off a minutes silence was held in memory of Ross Redman's mother, Eileen Redman, who sadly passed away on Friday.
Ballymena couldn't have dreamt of a better start to the new season as they were awarded a penalty inside the opening two minutes. Point captain Fra McCaffrey was clumsy in bringing down Ryan Waide in the box, and Paul McElroy slotted the penalty under Conor Mitchell for Ballymena's first goal this season. The Sky Blues kicked on well after the goal in front of the 500 supporters in attendance and new captain Leroy Millar tested Mitchell before fantastic work down the left by Ryan Waide presented McElroy with a chance, but his acrobatic effort went just wide. In the opening twenty minutes Warrenpoint didn't offer much but looked like they could cause some threat on the counter, with McCaffrey seeing a long range effort deflect just wide against his old side.
Bramall arrived at United with a reputation for pace and he was bright and dangerous for most of the first half, with one of his crosses from the left going over Mitchell and fooling some supporters into thinking it had gone in, but instead it came off the angle of the post. Millar was putting in a strong first half showing himself and he was able to find Bramall in the box who showed quick feet to find space, before firing into the side netting.
The home side were very slowly growing into the game and possibly should've levelled when Luke Wade-Slater crossed for an unmarked Greg Moorhouse who could only head wide from the centre of the goal from around six yards out.
Wilson was looking to open his Ballymena account early and saw a header at the back post kept out by Mitchell who got down low to save, but five minutes later up the other end Warrenpoint stung United to equalise.
Kealan Dillon picked the ball up a good bit out from goal and unchallenged he got himself to within twenty-five yards before letting fly. His shot cannoned off the crossbar before coming off the back of the diving Jordan Williamson and ending up in the back of the net, with the dubious goals panel left to decide who to credit the goal to.
If the first half had started badly for Warrenpoint, the second period began in disastrous fashion for the visitors. Inside a minute of the restart Wilson got the wrong side of Wade-Slater in the box and hauled the Warrenpoint man back as he was about to shoot, resulting in a Point pen and a Wilson red. Dillon stepped up to hit the game's second penalty, and he sent Williamson the wrong way to see Ballymena fall behind.
The rest of the half wasn't an opening day spectacle with very little happening at either end. The Braidmen, despite being a man down, were seeing more of the ball, but found chances and rhythm hard to come by, down in part to persistent Warrenpoint fouling to break up play. Ballymena's best chance probably came ten minutes from time when a shot/cross from Josh Kelly hit McElroy who was standing six yards from goal, but the forward hadn't time to adjust his feet and the hosts cleared.
The Sky Blues' day got even worse as stoppage time aged closer when Williamson came out to gather a high ball but caught Rodgers in the process, and after some five minutes of treatment Rodgers was stretchered off. He was replaced by Caolan Loughran, another man returning for his second spell in Sky Blue.
In six minutes of added time Ballymena could find no way through, as the first travelling United support for over seventeen months saw their side suffer an opening day defeat.
It's almost a fortnight before our next game when we travel to The Oval to face Glentoran on Friday 10th September, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Jordan Williamson, Lee Chapman, Douglas Wilson ( 46), Conor Keeley ( 83), Chris Rodgers ( Caolan Loughran 90), Joshua Kelly, Daniel Bramall, Leroy Millar, Paul McElroy, Ryan Waide, David Parkhouse.

Subs not used: Sam Johnston, Owen McKeown, Spencer Beattie, Jack Henderson, Brendan Barr, Kenneth Kane.