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Saturday 23rd September v. Ballinamallard United (away) - Danske Bank Premiership - k.o: 3:00pm

Uploaded Saturday, 2nd Sep, 2017 at 21:48

Date: Saturday, 2nd September, 2017; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1241;
Ballymena United [0] [1]
Cliftonville [0] [0]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Steven Gregg; Assistant 1: Stephen Donaldson; Assistant 2: Gavin Hegarty; 4th Official: Neil Robinson;
Goals:
[1-0] FRIARS, Emmet (76 mins)

BALLYMENA United got their first league win today, thanks to a single goal from sub Emmet Friars.
Much like each of Ballymena United's preceding four league games, it was a scoreless first half at the Showgrounds. Cliftonville's forward line was bolstered by the return of striker Rory Donnelly to the club, but the first period was largely dominated by the Sky Blues without any tangible end product.

Ballymena had the better of the early half-chances with both Joe McKinney and Steven McCullough failing to trouble Brett Long in the visitors goal. With 17 minutes gone, a big shout for a penalty was turned away by referee Steven Gregg as McKinney was upended in the area.
Steven McCullough brings the ball down on his chest
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Chances were few and far between, but it was McKinney again who was involved in the final action of the first half as the Sky Blues continued to try and force a way through when his close range effort was blocked by the goalkeeper.
Reds' keeper Brett Long was in fine form
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On the hour mark Conor McCloskey sparked the Braidmen into life when he flashed a low drive across the face of goal, which merely needed a touch from a home player. Shortly after Tony Kane's header from the edge of the penalty area drew Long into action as he was forced to tip the goal-bound effort over.
Conor McCloskey helped ignite the Braidmen
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On 64 minutes, Joe Gormley fashioned the Reds' best chance to date when he found a rare yard of space but could only drill a stinging effort straight at Conor Brennan who confidently palmed the ball away to safety.

Defender Emmet Friars was introduced as substitute for the injured Kyle Owens on 73 minutes and made an immediate impact! He almost opened the scoring with his first touch as his header was tipped over for a corner by the Cliftonville goalkeeper.
Brett Long tips the ball over for a corner
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However from the resulting corner, his second touch proved to be the match winner as he directed Tony Kane's low drive into the back of the net to open the scoring.
Emmet Friars scored the only goal of the game
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Cliftonville proceeded to throw everything at Ballymena for the final stages of the game, with Johnny Flynn called upon to make a last ditch challenge to stop substitute Daniel Hughes from breaking free for a goal scoring opportunity.

Barry Gray's side saved their best opportunity for stoppage time when Hughes' superb long-range strike was deflected narrowly wide by a United defender as the Sky Blues held out for their first win of the Danske Bank Premiership season.
David Jeffrey enjoyed the first league win of the season
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David Jeffrey was naturally delighted with the victory, "We have found ourselves having to adapt to expectations, and we have followed that up with performances against Linfield. What has been pleasing is that through this difficult period, is how much our supporters have been immense in how have backed us! I knew that a goal would likely have been enough to win it and I am really pleased that we got the win and I don't think anyone can say we didn't deserve it."
Emmet Friars celebrating his goal
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Goalscorer Emmett Friars was happy to be in the right place at the right time - "Nine times out of ten Tony hits the target so I was sitting at the far post hoping I could help the ball go in and managed to get a touch to it and it went in!

Even the last week we can see there was a different feeling in the changing room, there is a spring in the step and winning can become a habit. We've earned that wee bit of luck and to win 1-0 against Cliftonville is a result that we would take any time of the season."
Ballymena United travel to Milltown Playing Fields next Saturday to face Warrenpoint Town in the Danske Bank Premiership, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Neil Coleman
Ballymena United Team:
Conor Brennan, Tony Kane ( 27), Kyle Owens ( Emmet Friars 73), Johnny Flynn, Gary Thompson ( 80), Conor McCloskey, Andrew Burns, Matthew Shevlin ( 53 Willie Faulkner 82), Jim Ervin, Steven McCullough, Joe McKinney ( Cathair Friel 63).

Subs not used: Michael Gault, Fra McCaffrey.