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Tuesday 18th December v. Linfield (home) - Toals Co Antrim Shield SF - k.o: 7:45pm

Uploaded Tuesday, 9th Oct, 2018 at 23:15

Date: Tuesday, 9th October, 2018; Competition: BetMcLean League Cup - Round 3; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [0] [1]
HW Welders [0] [0]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Andrew Davey; Assistant 1: Ken Ross; Assistant 2: Gavin Andrews; 4th Official: Gareth Stewart;
Goals:
[1-0] WINCHESTER, Jude (90 mins)

BALLYMENA United secured a place in the last 8 of the BetMcLean League Cup after a last gasp win over Harland & Wolff Welders on Tuesday evening.
United simply didn't get going for any period of the first half at The Showgrounds as creating chances was proving incredibly difficult for both sides. In the opening 10 minutes the best The Sky Blues could conjure up was a shot from a long way out from Johnny McMurray which sailed well wide. As the half started to progress it was The Welders who were controlling the play in the midfield. When United did get forward and won a corner, Willie Faulkner dragged a shot well wide of the post.
20 minutes in, the Belfast side had their first meaningful effort. Luckas Gwiazda, who was hard to dispossess throughout the half, made a good run inside and supplied David Graham who's strong shot from the edge of the box went narrowly over. Graham's chance was a warning sign for United and 4 minutes later Graham got in behind to reach a long ball by William Armstrong, but his cross-goal ball just evaded Ryan Deans at the back post.
In the final 15 minutes of the half it was still The Welders creating the half chances. Scott Davidson had an adventurous half volley from 20 yards out go wide before dangerous full back Jack O'Mahony glided past Jim Ervin before seeing his shot deflected into the side netting by Kofi Balmer.
In the final 2 minutes United showed signs of life up front, with McMurray poking a hopeful shot wide. Shortly after McMurray was picked out by Balmer after a driving run, but his header went straight at Matthew Anderson. The chance for McMurray was Ballymena's first and only first half effort on target in 45 minutes United won't remember in a hurry.
The second half was an improvement from The Braidmen, certainly in terms of chances created. Just a couple of minutes in Scot Whiteside knocked down a free kick for McMurray and he sent a half volley just wide from a good position. 5 minutes later Leroy Millar had space to line up a slightly angled shot which hit the side netting. Ballymena were starting to dominate possession without really doing a great deal with it before a good move involving Cathair Friel, Faulkner and McMurray with the latter having a shot saved by Anderson in a one on one situation.
While The Welders were seeing less of the ball they still carried a threat going forward but it was The Sky Blues beginning to create frequent chances. Balmer headed a corner just wide at the back post and then an influential Jude Winchester poked an attempt just wide on the edge of the box. 2 minutes later Winchester went close again, doing all the work himself to create a chance, with his low drive forcing Anderson to scramble across goal.
Despite the chances United were still being frustrated all over the pitch and on 75 minutes The Welders almost went ahead. Graham got down well to head a low cross from Armstrong and Ross Glendinning did well to tip the ball over the crossbar. The final 10 minutes saw as much action as the first 80. Friel had a powerful shot well gathered in The Welders goal before sub Lecky flicked a header from a long ball from Glendinning inches wide.
With 2 minutes left Lecky missed a golden opportunity to win it. The forward showed sublime close control to bring down an Ervin ball and create a one on one chance, which he dragged agonisingly wide. In added time both sides had chances to steal a win at the death. First The Welders' Karl Hamill put a cross on a plate for Gwiazda, but he blasted his effort over.
Then at the other end Winchester sent United through with a late strike. Friel almost won it himself with an effort which was saved by Anderson, but on the rebound Winchester was there to sent the ball home, bringing a cheer of relief in the home stand. Yet the visitors almost took it to extra-time with the last kick when Deans headed a long throw-in narrowly wide as United squeezed through with a below par performance.
The draw for the quarter-finals will take place live on BBC Radio Ulster Sportsound at around 5:30pm on Saturday afternoon.
Ballymena United are back in league action this Saturday as they travel to the Brandywell to face Institute, kicking off at 3:00pm.

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Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Conor Quigley, Scot Whiteside, Cathair Friel, Willie Faulkner ( Adam Lecky 72), Kofi Balmer, Jude Winchester, Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar, Reece Glendinning ( Andrew McGrory 85), Johnny McMurray ( Ryan Mayse 72).

Subs not used: Thomas McDermott, Tony Kane, James Knowles, Steven McCullough.