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Friday 10th December v. Larne (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 7:45pm

Cliftonville MATCH REPORT

Uploaded Tuesday, 9th Nov, 2021 at 23:01

Date: Tuesday, 9th November, 2021; Competition: BetMcLean League Cup - Quarter-Final; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [1] [3]
Linfield [1] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Shane Andrews; Assistant 1: Paul Robinson; Assistant 2: Stephen Donaldson; 4th Official: Diarmuid Harrigan;
Goals:
[0-1] CHADWICK, William (8 mins), [1-1] WILSON, Douglas (37 mins), [2-1] WINCHESTER, Jude (54 mins), [3-1] MILLAR, Leroy (90 mins)

BALLYMENA United put in the performance of their season to dump Linfield out of the BetMcLean League Cup with a sensational 3-1 win at the Showgrounds on Tuesday night.
There was just the one change for United from Saturday's valuable league win at Glenavon, as Paul McElroy replaced Ryan Waide who's off on Northern Ireland U21 international duty.
Before kick-off, Ballymena held their annual Act of Remembrance, as David Jeffrey and David Healy laid wreaths on the pitch prior to an impeccable minute's silence.
After their league fixture was postponed earlier in the year, this was the first meeting between the sides this season, but after Leroy Millar had fired over for the hosts, Linfield took the lead early on. Chris Shields was allowed the space to bring the ball forward for Linfield, and after he picked out Billy Chadwick on the left, the cup's top scorer curled the ball in at the far post past a static Jordan Williamson.
The early concession to the reigning league champions could've sent alarm bells ringing for the hosts, but they didn't look back, and when Steven McCullough's wicked ball into the box was met by Ross Redman, he saw his header tipped over by Chris Johns.
As the half progressed Ballymena were starting to really impress as they began to retain more and more possession, and after a couple of half chances at either end, Ballymena got a thoroughly deserved leveller on thirty-seven minutes. Redman was back amongst the assists as his corner was put right on top of the 'keeper, and in amongst a mass gathering at the back post Dougie Wilson popped up to head home his first Sky Blue goal.
United were straight back on the attack following the equaliser and a minute later almost completed a rapid turnaround. A corner from Andy McGrory almost went straight in, as Johns was forced to claw it over the crossbar, and from the resulting corner Millar saw a shot blocked before Wilson fired over after pinball in the box.
Towards the end of the half Christy Manzinga headed over from close range in a good chance for Linfield, but a draw at the break was a fair scoreline.
It was a fairly even start to the second half as Jordan Stewart and McCullough traded efforts, but after a sensational Redman tackle kept Manzinga at bay, the Braidmen went straight down the other end and claimed the lead. Williamson's long kick went all the way to the edge of the Linfield box after it was poorly dealt with by Shields, and it was held up in spectacular fashion by Kenny Kane. The forward was then able to lay the ball off to Jude Winchester who slotted home neatly the goal his performance deserved.
On sixty-two minutes Winchester had a huge chance to grab his second and give the home side daylight, but after the ball dropped kindly to the midfielder in the box, he fired it straight at Johns, in a huge let off for a struggling Linfield side.
Unsurprisingly, United were forced into a nervous final twenty minutes, as Linfield finally began to create problems. Manzinga curled a good chance wide, before taking his visible frustration out needlessly on Conor Keeley. The forward was taken off shortly afterwards, to the delight of a United crowd creating an impressive atmosphere.
With thirteen minutes to go the Braidmen had a huge let off when sub Ahmed Salam saw a shot blocked after he'd slotted past Williamson, but when the rebound fell to Stewart it looked impossible to miss from six yards out, but somehow the magnificent Redman kept it out on the goal line.
Stewart would again go close minutes later as he saw a powerful strike kept out by the typically wonderful Williamson, and on eighty-five minutes United were left hoping they wouldn't rue a big miss from Kane. A quick counter from Winchester saw him slide the ball into the path of Kane who went through one on one, but despite being in the form of his life on Warden Street he shot straight at Johns.
Linfield continued to probe but found United's back line, in particular Caolan Loughran, unflappable, and after Jack Henderson and Brendan Barr were introduced late on, the latter played a big part in finding Ballymena's third to lift the roof off of the Showgrounds.
In the final minute of added time a Linfield corner was cleared out to Barr, and he broke at pace to leave it 2 on 1. The second United man was the tireless Millar, and after he was played in by Barr, the skipper did the rest as he slotted the ball past Johns to secure a mammoth win with the last kick of the tie.
United outstanding to a man, as they, in truth, played the until now unbeaten Linfield off the pitch, to record a fifth win in seven games and a spot in the final four after a memorable night.
Ballymena United travel to The Oval to face Glentoran for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon in the Danske Bank Premiership, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Jordan Williamson, Ross Redman, Douglas Wilson ( 22 Brendan Barr 86), Jude Winchester ( Jack Henderson 86), Paul McElroy, Steven McCullough, Kenneth Kane, Andrew McGrory, Caolan Loughran, Conor Keeley, Leroy Millar.

Samuel Johnston, Owen McKeown, Daniel Bramall, Jonte Smith, Spencer Beattie.