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Saturday 11th February v. Portadown (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Newington MATCH REPORT

Uploaded Monday, 2nd Jan, 2023 at 20:04

Date: Monday, 2nd January, 2023; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 2004;
Ballymena United [1] [2]
Glentoran [0] [0]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Ross Dunlop; Assistant 1: Andrew Nethery; Assistant 2: Rachel Greer; 4th Official: Lee Tavinder;
Goals:
[1-0] GRAHAM, Sean (24 mins), [2-0] WAIDE, Ryan (84 mins)

GOALS in either half from Sean Graham and Ryan Waide gave Ballymena United the perfect start to the New Year with a deserved 2-0 victory over struggling Glentoran at a foggy Showgrounds on Monday afternoon.
After two disappointing performances and results to round off 2022, United needed a response to begin 2023 and made three changes from Boxing Day, with Sean Graham, Ryan Waide and Jordan Gibson all coming in to start.
Thankfully, a thick blanket of fog around Warden Street had lifted just enough prior to kick off, but the opening twenty minutes yielded little by way of chances. The Glens saw more of the ball early on, but were unable to turn it into chances, and as United began to work their way into the game well, a touch of class from Sean Graham broke the deadlock on twenty-four minutes. A nice piece of play down the left involving a host of players ended with Ryan Waide slotting the ball into Graham. Alone in the box, the midfielder had it all to do, but somehow turned nothing into a goal as he got the better of Luke McCullough twice, before sending his shot under Aaron McCarey and in at the far post.
With just one win in nine, the away side's confidence is sure to be fragile, and the hosts kept the pressure up after the goal, with another tidy move resulting in Waide's chipped cross being glanced wide by Joshua Kelly. Into the final fifteen minutes of the half, Glentoran wrestled back some control of proceedings, but they were denied twice in quick succession by Sean O'Neill. First, a cross from Sean Murray was finding its way in before O'Neill got a fingertip to it to turn it over, before Murray again tested the man easiest to see in fluorescent yellow, but again O'Neill saved.
Further chances came as Ruaidhri Donnelly fired wide before O'Neill again did well to deny Seanan Clucas, all prior to a slightly needless melee to end the half, with Waide amongst three players booked.
There may have been one or two concerned people in the ground as the second half kicked off with the fog rolling back in and visibility just about holding up, but on the pitch Ballymena came out firing. Great work from a lively Waide on the left saw him rewarded with space to fizz a low ball across the six yard box, but it bypassed both Kym Nelson and David McDaid in the box. That chance was followed by two for Gibson within a minute, the former opening seeing Gibson latch onto a long ball from a counter attack, only to fire straight at McCarey, the latter a shot that was deflected agonisingly wide.
Much like in the first half, Ballymena's dangerous spell was followed by Glentoran pressure, but again the visitors rarely threatened O'Neill's goal, mostly thanks to near perfect defending across United's back line. After Marcus Kane had fired well over, that United wall suffered a setback when suspected concussion brought an early end to Conor Keeley's afternoon, who was immense along with Scot Whiteside in the heart of defence, but he was replaced by Ross Redman, who was as equally impressive.
As the Glens continued to lack creativity, United were dealt another injury blow as Nelson was forced off, but his replacement Jack Henderson put in quite the cameo in the final fifteen minutes.
Glentoran were looking for that one big chance to level, and it came on eighty-three minutes when the ball dropped for Ally Roy in the six-yard box, but he smashed his effort over the crossbar, and less than a minute later Ballymena had a second. Henderson refused to give up in a tangle in the middle of the pitch, and as he came away with the ball he slid it between two defenders for Waide to latch onto, and he did the rest as he emphatically slammed the ball home with a wonderful finish across McCarey.
The home end found its voice for the final five minutes to see Ballymena home, with contrasting atmospheres in the two stands, as United laid down a marker for the rest of the calendar year with a fantastic team performance and result.
Ballymena United travel to Loughshore Leisure Arena next Saturday afternoon to face Carrick Rangers in the fifth round of the Samuel Gelston's Whiskey Irish Cup, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Kym Nelson ( 35 Jack Henderson 71), Scot Whiteside, David McDaid, Joshua Kelly ( 45), Ryan Waide ( Paul McElroy 90), Steven McCullough, Jordan Gibson, Conor Keeley ( Ross Redman 58), Sean Graham ( 45), Michael Place ( 28).

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Kenneth Kane, Andrew McGrory, Robert McVarnock.