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Saturday 3rd December v. Cliftonville (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Carrick Rangers MATCH REPORT

Uploaded Tuesday, 11th Oct, 2022 at 22:06

Date: Tuesday, 11th October, 2022; Competition: Toals Co Antrim Shield - Quarter-Final; Attendance: N/A;
Larne [0] [1]
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Venue: Inver Park; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Raymond Crangle; Assistant 1: Stephen Bell; Assistant 2: Stephen Donaldson; 4th Official: Shane Andrews;
Goals:
[1-0] WATSON, Albert (70 mins)

BALLYMENA United are out of the Toals Bet Co. Antrim Shield after a much-improved performance couldn't prevent a 1-0 defeat to Larne at Inver Park on Tuesday night.
David Jeffrey MBE opted for an unchanged side to the one that picked up United's first win in six games at the weekend against Portadown, while Michael Place was back from suspension to return to the bench.
United's last trip to Inver was an unhappy one earlier on in the season, as was the meeting between in the sides at this stage of last season's Shield, but this looked like having a different feel from the off as Ballymena dominated the first half from start to finish.
Chances came from early on and from a string of corners Conor Keeley saw an effort blocked just wide, before Sean Graham let fly from all of thirty yards and saw his effort also sail just wide. Ballymena's strong showing continued and was epitomized by tenacious work by Ryan Waide to win the ball back deep in the Larne half, but his effort was saved by Jack McIntyre. Further busy work from Joshua Kelly to win the ball back high up yielded the Sky Blues' best chance as Kelly's ball across the penalty spot found Kenneth Kane at the back post, but he drilled his shot straight at McIntyre.
With half an hour gone Sean O'Neill had little to do with Larne resorted to minimal half chances at best, and given some of United's problems in midfield recently, they were dominating the middle of the park, thanks in large parts to Kelly, as well as very slack Larne passing.
Further chances came before the break, with two in particular falling to Jordan Gibson. First, he showed tidy skill to chest and volley an effort towards goal, but it dipped just wide. Then, United thought they'd gone ahead when a short corner found Gibson and he dinked an attempt over McIntyre to the back post, but somehow it was hooked off the line by Jeff Hughes in the nick of time, as an impressive United half was missing only a deserved goal.
The second half showed the definition of a game of two halves as Larne took control and Ballymena were unable to build on the first half pressure. Despite controlling the ball, Larne still were giving O'Neill little cause for concern and a first chance of the half didn't come until fifty-seven minutes, when Andy Scott bent an effort just wide of the post.
By the sixty-five minute mark the Invermens' pressure was building, but the chances created tally wasn't, however United were dealt a blow when Sean Graham, involved in a lot of Ballymena's good stuff in the first half, was forced off through injury, and two minutes later Larne broke the deadlock.
Aaron Donnelly floated in a free kick from just inside the visitor's half, and it looked for all the world like being O'Neill's ball, but the 'keeper failed to get up quick or high enough and he was beaten to the ball by Albert Watson, who headed the ball through O'Neill's gloves and in for his second this season against the Braidmen.
Ballymena's lack of threat in the second half was disappointing given the first half, but they almost levelled instantly and in style when Steven McCullough cut in from the left and rifled an effort on his lesser spotted right foot, only to see his good effort miss the top corner by inches.
That was really as good as it got late on as United failed to put Larne's back line under any real pressure, and down the other end Scott struck just wide before Matty Lusty should've wrapped the tie up when he collected a poor headed clearance from O'Neill out of his box, but he chipped his shot over Scot Whiteside and the open goal.
One final chance to equalise came in added time, but McCullough's free kick across the face of goal wasn't met by anyone in the box, as United matched a marvellous first half showing with a quieter second, to narrowly end their Shield hopes in a tight contest that could easily have gone either way.
Ballymena United host Coleraine in the Danske Bank Premiership on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Ross Redman ( Kym Nelson 58), Scot Whiteside, David McDaid, Joshua Kelly, Ryan Waide ( David Parkhouse 77), Steven McCullough, Kenneth Kane, Jordan Gibson, Conor Keeley, Sean Graham ( Michael Place 67).

Subs not used: Caolan Loughran, Jack Henderson, Nathan Clarke, Craig Farquhar.