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Uploaded Saturday, 12th Feb, 2022 at 19:43

Date: Saturday, 12th February, 2022; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 906;
Ballymena United [0] [1]
Dungannon Swifts [0] [0]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Steven Gregg; Assistant 1: Ryan Kelsey; Assistant 2: Gavin Hegarty; 4th Official: Glenn Buchanan;
Goals:
[1-0] McCULLOUGH, Steven (87 mins)

STEVEN McCullough came up with a last gasp winner for Ballymena United to give them a valuable 1-0 win against 10 man Dungannon Swifts at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
After fifteen days without a game due to pitch problems and Covid issues, Ballymena made three changes from last time out, as Kym Nelson came back into the starting XI, along with a debut for Malachy Smith and second debut for Sean O'Neill.
The first half on Warden Street wasn't always an easy watch, perhaps not a surprise considering the surface wasn't one conducive to free flowing football. Michael Place continues to impress in the Sky Blue shirt and he had the first chance early on, but his dragged shot was easy work for Declan Dunne in the Swifts goal. Nelson also put in a solid days work and he was almost in when he latched onto a Leroy Millar through ball, but he was always under pressure from the Swifts back line, who did enough to put him off.
As the half continued there was nothing to split the sides, with neither able to impose themselves on the other, and weak shots from first Kenneth Kane, and then Rhyss Campbell were the closest either team was coming.
After the heavens had opened on a pitch desperately in need of no rain, it thankfully soon cleared and United ended the first half well with the final few minutes the first time all day either side was able to increase the pressure for a period of time. Despite the pressure Ballymena failed to work Dunne, but they passed up a great chance in time added on. Brendan Barr did well to find Place out wide, and his dangerous ball across the six yard box was somehow missed by everyone, as a low quality half ended scoreless.
The second half was a better watch for those at the Showgrounds, but it was still hard work for both teams. Having shared the majority of possession with Dungannon in the first period, the Braidmen saw a lot more of the ball in the second, and early doors Conor Keeley had a header cleared on the line by Ethan McGee.
Not long after Kane had headed over a pacy ball in from Smith, Ryan Mayse, never one to shy away from an altercation, was booked for an off the ball incident that sparked some handbags, with Keeley soon dealing with Mayse's antics.
A minute later Keeley almost had himself on the score-sheet when his swerving shot from distance forced Dunne to parry out his effort. The follow up wasn't met by Kane as he took a swing and miss at the ball, and it trundled on to Leroy Millar on the edge who fired over, to end a chaotic piece of play.
With Ballymena better but still struggling to overly create chances, three changes in six minutes saw Steven McCullough, Ryan Waide and Paul McElroy all introduced.
With fifteen minutes left and Ballymena continuing to huff and puff but not really get anywhere, they were given a chance to press on for the final minutes when the visitors were reduced to ten men. Rather unsurprisingly, it was Mayse who received his marching orders as he needlessly caught Barr after the ball had gone. The decision incensed the Dungannon bench and some unsavory scenes followed on the touchline, with David Jeffrey and the Swifts goalkeeping coach both seeing yellow, as tempers flared once more on the pitch too.
Looking to press on with the man advantage, Ross Redman saw a curling free kick force Dunne into a fantastic save as he tipped over, but a Sky Blue goal never really looked likely. However, with three minutes left on the clock, Ballymena did their work late in the day for the second straight game, as McCullough popped up to be the hero late on. Sub Daniel Bramall did exceptionally well to bring United forward and he found McElroy, who put in a simply stunning ball that was met by fellow sub McCullough, who in unfamiliar territory headed United in front.
With four minutes added on Dungannon put the hosts under the cosh at times, and O'Neill, who had barely anything to do all day, stood up when it counted to produce a fine save over the bar to deny sub Ruairi McDonald.
The corner came to nothing and United saw out the 1-0 win that wasn't always pretty in tough conditions, but McCullough's goal was enough as Ballymena close the gap on those ahead of them in the league.
Ballymena United host Portstewart in the rescheduled Samuel Gelston's Whiskey Irish Cup second round game on Tuesday night, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Ross Redman, Kenneth Kane ( Ryan Waide 68), Brendan Barr, David Parkhouse ( Paul McElroy 68), Conor Keeley, Leroy Millar, Sean Graham ( 54 Steven McCullough 62), Malachy Smith ( Daniel Bramall 86), Kym Nelson, Michael Place.

Subs not used: Ciaran Gallagher, Jack Henderson, Christopher Rodgers.