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Saturday 7th July v. HW Welders (away) - Friendly - k.o: TBC

Uploaded Saturday, 11th Feb, 2017 at 19:10

Date: Saturday, 11th February, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1294;
Crusaders [2] [2]
Ballymena United [0] [1]
Venue: Seaview; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Ross Dunlop; Assistant 1: Stephen Bell; Assistant 2: Ken Ross; 4th Official: Lee Tavinder;
[1-0] WHYTE, Gavin (34 mins), [2-0] CUSHLEY, David (40 mins), [2-1] KANE, Tony (78 mins)

BALLYMENA United suffered a 2-1 defeat against league leaders Crusaders in a spirited performance at Seaview.
Extremely windy conditions made life difficult for United in the first half and consequently the home side in the second period. Crusaders flew out of the blocks with three chances inside three minutes. Jordan Owens headed wide with 20 seconds on the clock before Ross Glendinning made two saves to deny Jordan Forsythe and Billy Joe Burns.
The next chance also came the way of the home side as Crusaders' Owens got the better of his brother Kyle Owens, but Glendinning was on hand again to save. With 30 minutes gone, Crusaders couldn't have gone closer when Michael Carvill beat three men before teeing up Owens, but his shot was deflected onto the post before being cleared.
However on 34 minutes, Ballymena's valiant defending was undone as the league leaders went ahead. Gavin Whyte turned his man before bursting through and kept his nerve to fire low past Glendinning at his near post. 6 minutes later Crusaders doubled their lead. The ball fell nicely on the outside of the box to United old boy David Cushley, and his strong shot deflected in past Glendinning off Kyle Owens.
In added time, Crusaders thought they had a third when captain Colin Coates headed home from close range, but it was ruled out for a foul on Leroy Millar.
Having defended for most of the first half, Ballymena approached the second half with much more purpose and almost got back into the game in bizarre circumstances. A header from Howard Beverland was meant for Sean O'Neill but instead hit Cathair Friel, but the ball came off the striker and went wide. Johnny McMurray was next for a chance when he tried his luck from 25 yards, but it went just wide of O'Neill's goal.
As the wind continued to cause Crusaders problems, Coates caused his own when his misplaced header had O'Neill scrambling to prevent an own goal, but the 'keeper did well to get a hand on it and keep it out. At the other end, Jordan Owens called Glendinning to make a routine save before a dangerous Whyte sent an effort just wide. With 12 minutes to go, the Sky Blues got back into the contest with a goal from a likely source. Friel was hacked down on the edge of the box by Beverland, who picked up a yellow for his troubles. From 19 yards out, Tony Kane stepped up and unsurprisingly found the top corner to grab his eighteenth of the season.
Tony Kane pulled a goal back with a sensational free kick
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The away side continued with their pressure in search of the equaliser, but Jordan Owens could've killed the game off when he went one on one with Glendinning, but again the Sky Blue man came out on top. United were unsuccessful in their attempts for a leveller as they lost their final game before they return to Seaview next week for the League Cup final.
It's a huge day for Ballymena United next Saturday as they face Carrick Rangers at Seaview in the Northern Ireland League Cup Final, kicking off at 5:30pm. Tickets are required for this game, and we'll bring you news of further ticket sales as soon as we receive them from the Northern Ireland Football League.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane ( Fra McCaffrey 90), Kyle Owens, Allan Jenkins, Willie Faulkner, Cathair Friel, Jim Ervin ( Johnny Flynn 90), Leroy Millar, Kevin Braniff, Johnny McMurray ( Neil Lowry 80), Caolan Loughran ( 87).

Subs not used: Conor McCloskey, Tim Allen.