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Tuesday 3rd October v. Lisburn Distillery (home) - BetMcLean League Cup rd1 - k.o: 7:45pm

Lisburn Distillery Match Preview

Uploaded Friday, 4th Aug, 2023 at 22:15

Date: Friday, 4th August, 2023; Competition: Sports Direct Premiership; Attendance: 3479;
Coleraine [1] [2]
Ballymena United [1] [1]
Venue: Coleraine Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Tony Clarke; Assistant 1: John Doherty; Assistant 2: Gavin Hegarty; 4th Official: Keith Kennedy;
[0-1] COATES, Colin (12 mins), [1-1] SHEVLIN, Matthew (23 mins), [2-1] SHEVLIN, Matthew (61 mins)

BALLYMENA United got a new era underway with a 2-1 defeat in the A26 derby with Coleraine to open the 2023/24 Sports Direct Premiership season at the Coleraine Showgrounds on Friday night.
In Jim Ervin's first starting XI in league management, there were starts for four of the new boys as Johnny McMurray, Alex Gawne, John McGuigan and new club captain Colin Coates all got the nod.
It was quite a game to kick-start the season in terms of cards, and it took just three minutes for the first of twelve yellow cards when Gawne was booked. A second came the way of McMurray twelve minutes in for his reaction to a foul, but from the resulting free kick, United made the perfect start with the league's opening goal. Steven McCullough's deep cross picked out Coates at the back post, and the skipper guided a header beautifully into the far corner for his first in Sky Blue at the far end of the ground from a large travelling support.
United maintained their good start as McMurray called Gareth Deane into action with a first time shot, before Ballymena were dealt an early injury blow as Gawne was forced off, to be replaced by Marc Walsh.
The Bannsiders were slowly working their way into the game towards the middle of the half, but after McGuigan threw himself in front of a Conor McKendry shot to put it over, Coleraine levelled from a quick corner. Ballymena were caught sleeping from the sharp set piece and after McKendry mishit his shot, it fell to Matthew Shevlin who converted into the roof of the net at close range.
Ervin's men almost hit back straight away from another set piece, when this time McCullough had a go himself and his free kick was heading for the bottom corner, only for a terrific late save from Deane. In the final five minutes the away side had to soak up a considerable amount of home pressure as they looked to keep things level going into the break, and they also picked up another four bookings, plus one for the gaffer, with referee Tony Clarke certainly not shy in going to his book, but the closest Coleraine came was a header over by Stephen O'Donnell.
From early on in the second half it was clear Coleraine would be orchestrating most of the half, and in particular McKendry who was giving the Sky Blues all sorts of problems, and after he followed Lee Lynch in firing over from distance, he then added a second assist for Shevlin who made it 2-1. A move of multiple passes came to a head when McKendry picked the ball up out wide before firing a ball low across goal, but despite offside appeals Shevlin tapped in from close range.
For United it was about seeing out the period just after the goal without falling further behind, which they did just about as Davy McDaid fired straight at O'Neill in his first game against his old side, before Jamie Glackin struck the outside of the post.
Heading into the last fifteen minutes Ballymena were still very much in it, but struggling to get the ball to stick up top, as Ervin turned to his bench with the introduction of Fiontan O'Boyle, TJ Murray and Kym Nelson.
As five minutes went up on the board to bring an ending to a fiery and intense first derby game of the season, United had the final chance when Michael Place drove forward and the ball fell to Waide, but he struck straight at Deane, as United fell short in the opening game of the season.
Ballymena are at home to Crusaders in the Sports Direct Premiership next Friday evening, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill ( 43), Scot Whiteside ( 90), Colin Coates ( 45), Alexander Gawne ( 3 Marc Walsh 17 Fiontan O'Boyle 79), Sean Graham ( 45), Ryan Waide, Steven McCullough ( 76), John McGuigan ( Thomas (TJ) Murray 86), Andrew McGrory ( Kym Nelson 79), Jonathan McMurray ( 11), Michael Place ( 24).

Subs not used: Samuel Johnston, Jordan Gibson, Lewis Tennant.