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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, 16th Sep, 2023 at 19:25

Date: Saturday, 16th September, 2023; Competition: Sports Direct Premiership; Attendance: 950;
Ballymena United [1] [1]
Loughgall [0] [3]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Steven Gregg; Assistant 1: Stephen Bell; Assistant 2: Rachel Greer; 4th Official: Tony Clarke;
[1-0] COATES, Colin (37 mins), [1-1] FERRIS, Nathaniel (54 mins), [1-2] FERRIS, Nathaniel (58 mins), [1-3] HOEY, Andrew (66 mins)

A SECOND half collapse saw Ballymena United return to losing ways with a 3-1 defeat to promoted Loughgall on a bitterly disappointing Saturday afternoon at the Showgrounds.
After the Sky Blues finally got themselves off the mark last weekend in Carrick, there was just the sole change for the visit of last season's Championship winners, as Ryan Waide dropped out for a returning Michael Place.
United would have hoped confidence levels had been lifted by last week's first win, but after Place struck just wide a couple of minutes in, it was the visitors who probably started the brighter. Six minutes in a free kick in prime position for Caolan Loughran could've given his former team a problem, but he blasted over, before Andrew Hoey did the same with a bending effort.
Following the opening fifteen minutes, there wasn't too much to talk about by way of chances, but the hosts were continuing to improve though, in the end, just lacked that final cross or pass to turn possession into good chances.
However, that changed eight minutes before the break when Ballymena opened the scoring for the afternoon. After Donal Rocks was on the end of a poor challenge around the middle of the half, Steven McCullough floated the resulting free kick in and it seemed to be met by captain Colin Coates, who nodded home his third of the season. His teammate Kym Nelson challenged for the header too and then also wheeled away in celebration, but the goal seems to be going into the ledger as the skipper's, as a decent enough half from the hosts saw them lead at the break.
Being critical, the Sky Blues were perhaps a little sloppy at the very end of the first half, but it ended up being a sign of things to come in what was quite frankly a second half performance that was surely nowhere near an acceptable level for those watching in the dugout.
The Braidmen were all over the place from the off, as Tiarnan Kelly went close twice, first firing over and then calling Sean O'Neill into a good save down to his bottom right from distance, before on fifty-four minutes the Villagers deservedly levelled. A short corner routine saw a cross partially cleared by Nelson, but when the ball was headed back in by Oran Brogan, United's defence stood static, allowing Nathaniel Ferris to easily pounce and convert the ball home off the crossbar.
Three minutes after the goal Corrie Burns was forced off by injury and was replaced by John McGuigan, but a minute later Loughgall's quick fire comeback was complete. Unsurprisingly, it came from another corner, with United's failures to defend set pieces now having gone long past a concern, and this time Pablo Andrade's ball to the back post found Ferris virtually on the goal line, and he eventually turned it home with ease.
By now United looked lost and as Loughgall continuously attacked as if Ballymena weren't there, it was 3-1 by the sixty-sixth minute. A throw in wasn't dealt with and found substitute Alberto Balde who walked through Ballymena's wobbling defence to the by line, where he cut the ball back for Hoey who slammed into the roof of the net.
Ryan Waide and Johnny McMurray came on for a shellshocked Ballymena after Hoey's goal, but in the minutes that followed it could've and should've been more for Loughgall with the hosts virtually non-existent. In a two-on-two attack Jamie Rea crossed for Balde who should've scored but fired wide, before Hoey went through on goal but struck straight at O'Neill. More missing in action defending from United allowed Hoey in to square the ball to Balde, who again should've scored only for a good O'Neill save, as the United collapse continued.
Late on, Jim Ervin's men finally stopped the bleeding but it was far too late in front of a firmly disgruntled home end. Fraser Taylor, arguably the only man in Sky Blue truly carrying his weight, clipped a lovely ball over the top for Isaac Westendorf, who's chip rolled agonisingly passed the post, before McMurray headed just wide and more great Taylor play should've yielded a goal, only for Waide to smash over from close range.
It ended 3-1, with a solid first half display undone by a second half showing that was beyond belief at times, as Ballymena remain rooted to the bottom of the league and still with massive work to do going off the second half.
Ballymena United are at home to Cliftonville next Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Kym Nelson ( 9), Corrie Burns ( 51 John McGuigan 59), Donal Rocks ( Jonathan McMurray 68), Scot Whiteside, Colin Coates ( 31), Alexander Gawne ( Ryan Waide 68), Steven McCullough, Fraser Taylor, Michael Place ( Fiontan O'Boyle 83), Isaac Westendorf.

Subs not used: Samuel Johnston, Andrew McGrory, Dylan Boyle.