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

Newington MATCH REPORT

Uploaded Saturday, 7th Jan, 2023 at 20:13

Date: Saturday, 7th January, 2023; Competition: Samuel Gelston's Whiskey Irish Cup - Round 5; Attendance: N/A;
Carrick Rangers [0] [1] AET 1 Pens 0
Ballymena United [0] [1] AET 1 Pens 3
Venue: Belfast Loughshore Arena; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Raymond Crangle; Assistant 1: Bogdan Sfirloaga; Assistant 2: David Burns; 4th Official: Michael McKenna;
Goals:
[1-0] Anderson (69 mins), [1-1] Keeley (79 mins)
Pens:
[0-1] Place, [0-2] Redman, [0-3] McElroy

SEAN O'Neill was the hero as Ballymena United edged out Carrick on penalties to advance to Round 6 of the Samuel Gelston's Whiskey Irish Cup, after the sides were level at 1-1 at Taylor's Avenue on Saturday afternoon.
There was just one enforced change to United's original line up from Monday's 2-0 win over Glentoran as Douglas Wilson replaced Kym Nelson, but an injury in the warm up to Steven McCullough saw him switched out for Ross Redman.
Prior to kick-off at a blustery Loughshore Leisure Arena, both sides joined the rest of the thirty-two teams in the cup by paying tribute with a moment silence to one of football's greatest, Pele, following his passing last week.
To the match, and despite having the strong wind with them in the first half, Ballymena struggled for most of the half. Carrick probably should've been ahead eight minutes in when Lloyd Anderson crossed for Kyle Cherry totally unmarked in the box, but he somehow blazed over. After Michael Place had tested Ross Glendinning with a long-range bullet that the former Ballymena man did well to tip over, a host of chances fell the Gers way. After David Cushley volleyed over at the back post, Sean O'Neill made the first of a number of man of the match winning saves as he made a stunning stop to keep out Ben Tilney's effort through a sea of bodies.
After another couple of Carrick half chances and another fine stop from O'Neill to thwart Tilney again, Joshua Kelly passed up on a couple of good opportunities for the Sky Blues. First, he saw a glancing header just about held onto by Glendinning, before David McDaid's great play sent Kelly in on goal, but in two minds he probably chose the wrong option to square it instead of shooting, and his intended ball for Jordan Gibson went straight out of play.
Before the break O'Neill still found time for another huge save, as a strong right hand somehow kept Alex Gawne's shot out, with Carrick's stadium announcer even taking time to single out O'Neill's first half display.
Jack Henderson replaced Wilson to start the second half, as United looked to try and put their stamp on the game after a poor first forty-five, but early doors it was the Amber Army making the running in the tie again. Tilney fired into the side netting, before a ball across goal for Gawne had to be turned home, only for Gawne to fluff his lines. A couple of minutes later Gawne did brilliantly to get hold of a chipped ball in, only to fire over, before a fifteen/twenty-minute lull in the game, when neither team really looked likely to do anything, was ended by a Carrick opener. Tilney had caused havoc for most of the afternoon and his run down the left resulted in a cross to Anderson, but after seeing his first shot blocked, his second effort scrambled past O'Neill on the goal line to put Carrick, probably deservedly, ahead.
The Braidmen had looked off it for a lot of the tie and in the end, it was falling behind that seemed to spark them into life, and nine minutes later they were level. Kelly's effective long throw-in was met by Conor Keeley, who spectacularly hooked the ball home on the volley into the far corner, to get United back on level terms with a moment of magic from United's rock at the back.
There was little to report in the final ten minutes, as both teams looked to maybe hold onto what they had, and after Henderson fired over, extra time awaited.
Extra time in cup ties isn't always the most exciting, and this was something similar, with little chances. The first, however, was a huge one, as McDaid did well again to slide Ryan Waide in, but with just the 'keeper to beat he curled his shot agonisingly wide. With the last kick of the first fifteen, Place had the ball in the net seconds after Paul McElroy replaced Gibson, but it was rightly flagged for offside.
The second fifteen minutes were again bereft of many chances, as the tie looked primed to head to penalties. Kenneth Kane replaced Waide, who took a nasty blow to the knee, but in the 119th minute Stuart King's men almost nicked it when Daniel Kelly's looping effort looked set to loop over, but as O'Neill watched on, it crashed back off the crossbar, before Ballymena cleared, and penalties arrived.
Place put the pressure on by burying the first spot kick with a cool finish, and either side of Redman's successful penalty, former United men Mark Surgenor and Jim Ervin put over and off the bar respectively, to put Ballymena in command. After McElroy converted to put David Jeffrey's men on the brink, another ex-Sky Blue, and another defender, in Reece Glendinning missed. Fittingly, O'Neill was United's hero once again as he capped off a fantastic day personally by denying Glendinning, with United far from convincing, but most importantly into the Last 16, where a face-off with Newington awaits.
Ballymena United travel to face Glentoran in the Danske Bank Premiership on Tuesday night, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Douglas Wilson ( Jack Henderson 46), Scot Whiteside, David McDaid, Joshua Kelly, Ryan Waide ( Kenneth Kane 113), Ross Redman, Jordan Gibson ( Paul McElroy 105), Conor Keeley, Sean Graham, Michael Place.

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