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

Lisburn Distillery Match Preview

Uploaded Saturday, 2nd Sep, 2023 at 18:49

Date: Saturday, 2nd September, 2023; Competition: Sports Direct Premiership; Attendance: 846;
Glenavon [1] [1]
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Venue: Mourneview Park; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Tim Marshall; Assistant 1: John Doherty; Assistant 2: Brian Wilson; 4th Official: Stewart Long;
[1-0] BIRNEY, Calum (4 mins)

10-MAN Ballymena United have now lost their opening six games of the season after a 1-0 defeat to Glenavon in a card happy encounter at Mourneview Park on Saturday.
For United's first Saturday game this season, Jim Ervin made two changes as Sean Graham, who left for Larne, and TJ Murray dropped out for Donal Rocks and the returning Andrew McGrory.
It was an important game for both clubs so early on, with neither side registering a win so far, but after a barrage of early corners, United fell behind just four minutes in. It came from one of those corners, as again Ballymena failed to deal with a set piece, and this time it was Calum Birney who benefitted by heading home.
Things settled down following the early setback, in what was a fairly low-quality half, with United's first effort coming via Ryan Waide ten minutes in, but it drifted well wide in what would be the closest the visitors came before the break.
Glenavon probably looked the more likely, but weren't doing much either to threaten, as shots from distance came in from Jamie McDonagh and Stephen Teggart, but both yielded good stops from Sean O'Neill.
In between those Glenavon chances, Ballymena suffered an injury set back as Steven McCullough was forced off half an hour in, and he was replaced by captain Colin Coates, back from suspension, whilst Kym Nelson was forced to operate at left back.
Just before half time, Fraser Taylor struck well wide at the end of what was a slightly more promising spell for United, before Michael Place was oddly booked after a Glenavon player avoiding a yellow for kicking the ball away to stop a quick free kick, which would prove costly at the start of the second half.
The Braidmen made a ropey start to the second half when a ball across the face of goal was eventually cleared by Nelson, but on fifty-one minutes there was some confusion as Place received United's third red card in five games. Place was penalised for a foul just outside the Glenavon box but that seemed to be the end of it, until a period of time later a red card was shown and Place left the pitch.
Now a goal and a man down, Jim Ervin turned to his bench as Alex Gawne returned from injury, and Cathair Friel came on for his second debut for the Sky Blues after his return this week.
If anything, the away side probably improved following the sending off and when Coates somehow found himself in the box, he turned well but his weak effort was saved, in United's first shot on target of the day. With twenty minutes to go things were turning increasingly scrappy, before three good chances for the Lurgan Blues should've put the game to bed. First, Jackson Nesbitt dribbled his way to the edge of the box, before O'Neill stopped his low effort, but minutes later it should've been two. A mistake by Nelson allowed Cohen Henderson to race through on goal, but with no one near him and only O'Neill to beat, he blasted his effort well over the crossbar.
O'Neill was then out well to deny Aaron Prendergast to keep things to 1-0, but with ten minutes to go and the card total needlessly increasing by the minute, Glenavon found themselves reduced to ten men. Aaron Rogers had been booked earlier in the half, and when he prevented Johnny McMurray from advancing, he was sent for an early bath.
Now ten on ten, it was an incredibly open final minutes, in a frantic at times finale. Coates went close with a header from a free kick that was well saved by Rory Brown, before Gawne, who looked a threat, saw a bending effort parried away. As seven minutes went up for added time, Prendergast got in down the left and his near post shot produced a good save from O'Neill's leg, but with the last kick of the game, pinball in the Glenavon box nearly ended with a leveller. In a crowded box, with a number of players ending up on the floor, the ball dropped to Taylor, but his rasping shot was too close to Brown who made a smart save to give Glenavon all three points.
A poor opening hour was met by a more purposeful final thirty minutes by United, but its ultimately a sixth straight defeat, a fourth game without a goal and a third red card, to start the season.
Ballymena United are at home on Tuesday evening when they host Knockbreda in the 1st round of the Toals Co Antrim Shield, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Kym Nelson, Donal Rocks ( 36), Scot Whiteside ( 84), Ryan Waide ( Alexander Gawne 55), Steven McCullough ( Colin Coates 29), John McGuigan ( 87 Marc Walsh 87), Fraser Taylor, Andrew McGrory ( Cathair Friel 55), Jonathan McMurray ( 79), Michael Place ( 45 51).

Subs not used: Samuel Johnston, Corrie Burns, TJ Murray.