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

Lisburn Distillery Match Preview

Uploaded Tuesday, 15th Aug, 2023 at 22:17

Date: Tuesday, 15th August, 2023; Competition: Sports Direct Premiership; Attendance: 1857;
Larne [0] [3]
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Venue: Inver Park; Kick-Off: 19:45;
[1-0] BONIS, Lee (48 mins), [2-0] RYAN, Andy (82 mins), [3-0] MILLAR, Leroy (90 mins)

BALLYMENA United's wait for a first point of the season goes on as a trio of second half goals gave the Champions Larne a 3-0 win at Inver Park on Tuesday night.
Jim Ervin made two changes from the side that lost to Crusaders in his first home game in charge on Friday night, as Johnny McMurray and the suspended Colin Coates dropped out for Jordan Gibson and Fraser Taylor, who made his United debut in the midfield.
In what was arguably the toughest task in a long list of them to start to the season for United, the visitors started brightly as they embarked on an encouraging first half showing. An early corner was flicked on by captain Scot Whiteside before ricocheting goalwards, but luckily for Larne it flew wide.
Larne's first chance came fourteen minutes in when a fortunate bounce took the ball into Joe Thompson's pass, but he was denied by a brilliant Jordan McMullan block, before minutes later a tidy move ended with Lee Bonis flicking the ball onto the outside of the post, but bar those two chances, United looked steady.
As the half went on both teams struggled to create as a mix of assured defending from both teams cancelled out any attacking play, but there was nothing to split the sides in the middle of the park. Five minutes before the break came the Braidmen's best chance of the half when Steven McCullough floated a cross in for Ryan Waide, but he guided a decent header just wide of the far post, though had it gone in, it wouldn't have been against the run of play.
A bit of late Larne pressure to end the half saw Dylan Sloan curl an effort wide and Tomas Cosgrove have a header held by Sean O'Neill, as an extremely even half ended goalless.
If the first forty-five had given a fair bit of optimism to the travelling support, three minutes into the second half that optimism started to fade as the Invermen broke the deadlock. Larne's deadly duo of Bonis and Andy Ryan combined as the latter did well to get a cross in from the left, and his ball found Bonis who really couldn't miss well inside the six yard box with a header, as United conceded another goal from sloppy defending in their box.
It set the tone for the half as whilst Ballymena kept going, they were under sustained pressure from the hosts that hadn't come in the first half. Levi Ives saw a free kick well saved by O'Neill, before Thompson and Ryan both missed big chances from inside the box.
On sixty-four minutes a first change for the away side saw Johnny McMurray replace Taylor, who received a warm reception from the away end after a more than promising first game for United.
Coming into the final fifteen United were holding on a bit, but still only one goal behind, and after Kym Nelson produced a great block to deny Ryan, McMurray almost levelled things when he met a McCullough cross, only to be denied by a quick reflex save from the feet of Rohan Ferguson.
That was really all United created all half, as despite some decent possession and defending, they just couldn't put enough good things together to worry Larne at all, and eight minutes from time it was game over at 2-0. Bonis drove forward from his own half towards the box and when his low cross missed Leroy Millar, Ryan was waiting behind him unmarked to guide the ball into the top corner.
From 2-0 the wheels threatened to really come off at the end as Larne missed a spate of chances, including a stunning Nelson goal line block, Shea Gordon hitting the post and Craig Farquhar the crossbar, but in added time Millar added a third.
McMurray had only just fired over for Ballymena at one end, but down the other Bonis had a shot blocked before he put the ball into the path of Millar, and he found the bottom corner with a controlled volley.
An encouraging first half display from the Sky Blues, but less so in the second, as another defeat makes it three in a row to start the new Ervin era, with tough assignments still to come this month.
Ballymena United host Linfield on Friday evening, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Kym Nelson ( 44), Scot Whiteside, Sean Graham ( Marc Walsh 84), Ryan Waide, Steven McCullough, John McGuigan ( 66), Fraser Taylor ( Johnny McMurray 62), Jordan Gibson ( Fiontan O'Boyle 81), Jordan McMullan, Michael Place ( 83).

Subs not used: Sam Johnston, Caleb Crawford, TJ Murray, Lewis Tennant.