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Glenavon Match Preview

Uploaded Saturday, 18th Feb, 2017 at 22:52

Date: Saturday, 18th February, 2017; Competition: Northern Ireland League Cup - Final; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [1] [2]
Carrick Rangers [0] [0]
Venue: Seaview; Kick-Off: 17:30;
Referee: Ian McNabb; Assistant 1: David Anderson; Assistant 2: Adrian Sobieski; 4th Official: Steven Taylor;
[1-0] JENKINS, Allan (45 mins), [2-0] McCLOSKEY, Conor (90 mins)

BALLYMENA United were crowned Northern Ireland League Cup Champions for the first time with a 2-0 win over Carrick Rangers at Seaview.
A sell out sea of sky blue and amber packed into Seaview for the final which got off to an expected nervy start as both sides looked to settle.
The team line up before the game in front of packed stands
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The first chance of the game fell to Fra McCaffrey but his shot went well wide. As Ballymena began to take control of the play, Johnny McMurray shot well over with an effort on the turn, before Allan Jenkins sent a header from a Leroy Millar cross narrowly over the bar. Carrick's first chance fell at the feet of T.J Murray, but he couldn't keep his shot down inside the box.
After 20 minutes, Carrick stopper Brian Neeson made a great save, tipping a half volley from McMurray over the bar. McMurray was United's most likely source of goals in the first half and went close again when after a spot of pinball in the box, the striker curled an effort just wide.
Carrick's other Murray, Martin, called Ross Glendinning into his first piece of action on the half hour mark, firing a shot from 20 yards that Glendinning had to get across to well. The Sky Blues went close again when a corner from Millar was met by Cathair Friel, but under pressure from two Carrick defenders he headed over.
With one minute left in the first half, Ballymena took the lead through Jenkins. Willie Faulkner got to the by-line with a mazy run and cut the ball back into the box, where Jenkins was waiting to slot the ball into the bottom corner and put United 45 minutes from glory.
Allan Jenkins celebrates after scoring the first goal at the end of the first half
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Carrick started the second half the better of the two sides and received a free kick 30 yards out, with Faulkner picking up a booking for his foul. Steven McCullough tried his luck but couldn't keep his shot below the bar. Straight down the other end Friel played in McMurray, whose first effort was straight at Neeson before his second hit the side netting. With a nervous 15 minutes left for both sets of supporters, Tony Kane went close to wrapping up the final with another free kick special, but this time Neeson tipped his free kick onto the bar and over.
Carrick needed just one chance to grab an equaliser and that chance came to substitute Adam Salley with 10 minutes left. A free kick was knocked down into the path of an unmarked Salley, but he somehow put the ball over. Another free kick late on caused Ballymena problems when another substitute, Nathan McConnell headed towards goal, but Glendinning got down well to save.
With 4 minutes added on, as Carrick continued to push for late drama, Sky Blue substitute Conor McCloskey found space on the right and unleashed an unstoppable 20 yard effort into the top corner to put Ballymena 2-0 up and secure the cup.
Conor McCloskey fires in the goal that sealed the win in the 90th minute
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The final whistle was met with a rapturous reception at the Ballymena ends of the stadium as captain Jim Ervin lifted Ballymena's first League Cup trophy, and first silverware under David Jeffrey, in a day to remember.
Captain Jim Ervin lifts the trophy to the delight of his team mates
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Manager David Jeffrey applauds his players
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Lifelong Ballymena United supporter Trevor Burns pictured with David Jeffrey and the NI League Cup
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Ballymena United Chairman John Taggart got his hands on the trophy
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Manager David Jeffrey, Main Sponsor Norman McBurney OBE, Ballymena United Chairman John Taggart and Assistant Manager Bryan McLaughlin with the NI League Cup
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Ballymena United are back in league action next weekend as they face Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park next Saturday, kicking off at 3pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Kyle Owens, Tony Kane ( Gary Thompson 90), Allan Jenkins, Willie Faulkner ( 47), Jim Ervin, Cathair Friel, Leroy Millar, Johnny McMurray ( Darren Henderson 90), Caolan Lougran, Francis McCaffrey ( 69 Conor McCloskey 81).

Subs not used: Tim Allen, Adam McCracken.