Saturday 6th March v. Larne (home) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 5:30pm

Larne Match Preview
Uploaded Tuesday, 1st Dec, 2020 at 23:09

Date: Tuesday, 1st December, 2020; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [1] [2]
Carrick Rangers [0] [0]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Evan Boyce; Assistant 1: Kristian Hanna; Assistant 2: Neil Gillespie; 4th Official: Declan Hassan;
Goals:
[1-0] McELROY, Paul (pen 20 mins), [2-0] BALMER, Kofi (65 mins)

BALLYMENA United made it three straight wins with a 2-0 victory over Carrick Rangers behind closed doors at The Showgrounds on Tuesday evening.
David Jeffrey named an unchanged side from the one that beat Cliftonville 4-0 a week ago, as they played Carrick in front of no fans as per Covid-19 guidelines.
United had the first chance of the evening as Ciaran Kelly headed over from a corner, but after that the visitors threatened. First Reece Neale had a weak shot saved by Jordan Williamson, before Michael Smith had two shots blocked.
After the Sky Blues survived a mix up at the back between Williamson and Jonny Addis, they had a chance to go ahead at the other end from the penalty spot. A bit of pushing and shoving in the box from a corner saw referee Evan Boyce point to the spot, although no one in the ground seemed to know how was fouled, who committed the foul, or if it even was one. With Carrick incensed, their mood worsened when Paul McElroy slammed home his third penalty of the season.
The Braidmen stepped it up after the opener as McElroy flicked a Shay McCartan cross wide, before McCartan beat half the Carrick team in a stunning run from his own half, only to have his shot well saved. The rebound fell to Leroy Millar, but 'keeper Aaron Hogg completed a quality double save with a diving effort.
The half petered out towards the end but The Gers, who'd had enough of the ball but didn't look overly sharp in the final third, had a chance as Lloyd Anderson created himself a chance, but Williamson smothered the chance to see the half end 1-0.
Just four minutes into the second half the hosts could've went 2-0 up when Cathair Friel's blocked effort landed nicely for Millar who looked set to volley home, but he failed to connect with the ball. The second half wasn't littered with chances but as Carrick continued to lack creativity, the chances that did come fell Ballymena's way. McCartan had a go from all of 30 yards but saw it flash narrowly wide, and Friel picked out McElroy, who saw his attempt blocked by Neale on the line.
On 64 minutes Ballymena had their second goal as Kofi Balmer netted his second of the season. A corner was recycled back to Ross Redman and his first time ball evaded everyone in the box and fell to Balmer at the back post, and with no defenders in sight he finished from close range.
Ballymena native and ex-Sky Blue Caolan Loughran tried his luck from at least 40 yards from a free kick, and saw his effort spilled by Williamson, with Kyle Cherry's rebound crucially blocked by Trai Hume, as Carrick looked a way back into the game. The home side could've had a third but for more good goalkeeping from Hogg. McCartan picked up on a loose Mark Surgenor ball and his low angled shot was tipped wide by Hogg. Minutes later a Redman shot from well out took a huge deflection and looked set to loop in, but Hogg was across well to scramble it over the crossbar.
The final 15 minutes was much like the end to the first half with little happening. The only real chance came for sub Joe McCready who found himself one-on-one, but his chipped effort landed on the roof of the net, as it finished 2-0.
After a long wait for a home clean sheet it's now back to back shut out's at home and three on the spin home and away as United continue to climb the table.
Ballymena United make the journey to Shamrock Park on Saturday afternoon where they will face Portadown in the Danske Bank Premiership, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Jordan Williamson, Ross Redman, Jonathan Addis ( 70), Cathair Friel ( 35 Ryan Waide 82), Paul McElroy ( Joseph McCready 87), Seamus McCartan ( 32 Jude Winchester 80), Kofi Balmer, Trai Hume, Leroy Millar, Ciaran Kelly, Joshua Kelly.

Subs not used: Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Ryan Harpur, Jim Ervin.

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