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Cliftonville MATCH REPORT

Uploaded Saturday, 17th Feb, 2018 at 22:49

Date: Saturday, 17th February, 2018; Competition: BetMcLean League Cup - Final; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [1] [1]
Dungannon Swifts [2] [3]
Venue: National Stadium; Kick-Off: 17:30;
Referee: Tim Marshall; Assistant 1: Mark O'Brien; Assistant 2: Kristian Hanna; 4th Official: Keith Kennedy;
[0-1] MAYSE, Ryan (11 mins), [1-1] OWENS, Kyle (17 mins), [1-2] MAYSE, Ryan (37 mins), [1-3] BURKE, Cormac (55 mins)

DUNGANNON Swifts are the BetMcLean League Cup champions for 2018 after beating a disappointing Ballymena United 3-1 in the final at the National Stadium.
There was a nervy moment inside the first minute for Dungannon when Johnny McMurray almost got on the end of a slack David Armstrong back pass, but he did just enough to find Stuart Addis. The first real attempt on goal came on 11 minutes and resulted in Dungannon breaking the deadlock. Paul McElroy managed to keep the ball in play on the left wing and crossed for Ryan Harpur at the back post. The Swifts captain was completely unmarked and headed the ball down for Ryan Mayse, who smashed the ball home off the underside of the bar.
The Sky Blues looked to hit back quickly with Willie Faulkner have a dangerous shot blocked before Conor McCloskey cut inside and forced Addis into a great save. From the resulting corner, Ballymena found an equaliser. The corner from Leroy Millar was met by Kyle Owens in the 6 yard box who got a vital touch to head home his 5th goal of the season in all competitions.
After early Dungannon dominance United were starting to see more of the ball and a cross from McCloskey was turned over the bar by McMurray after a first time shot. On 26 minutes it was Ross Glendinning's turn to pull off a fantastic save. Cormac Burke had time to cut inside on the left and his dipping effort looked to be going in before Glendinning brilliantly tipped it over the bar.
At the other end The Swifts failed to fully clear a corner and ex-Dungannon man Andrew Burns was able to get a low shot away, but it was easily gathered by Addis. Dungannon began to look the superior side again in the final ten minutes of the half, with Harpur heading a corner over after being slightly unbalanced, before Mayse grabbed his second to put the Co. Tyrone side ahead once more. A cross from Kris Lowe found Mayse who saw his first shot well saved by Glendinning, but Mayse was quickest to the rebound and poked the ball home from close range to give Dungannon the half time lead.
United were slow out of the blocks at the start of the second half and after a very quiet 10 minutes Dungannon scored again to make it 3-1. A cross from Mayse made its way to Burke on the edge of the box and after a couple of touches he curled the ball nicely into the bottom corner as Glendinning simply watched on.
Ballymena were restricted to half chances at best, mostly down to their own poor play, as they looked for a way back into the game. Millar did well to work a cross from the right and found Kane, but with the ball behind him he volleyed well wide. With 25 minutes left McElroy really should've made it 4-1. Burke crossed for the striker at the back post who somehow had acres of space and all the time in the world but he managed to head wide.
David Jeffrey turned to Matthew Shevlin on the bench, as well as Patrick Weir who made his Sky Blue debut. McCloskey was almost the man to bring Ballymena back into it after a curling effort from the edge of the box was fantastically saved by Addis, tipping the ball round the post. That McCloskey chance came on 69 minutes and was the last time Ballymena found any quality to worry The Swifts.
There was little happening for either side until the 81st minute when Dungannon were reduced to 10 men. In an off the ball incident captain Harpur caught Kofi Balmer, with the linesman spotting it, advising Tim Marshall to give Harpur his marching orders. On 83 minutes Balmer couldn't carry on due to an injury and was replaced by Fra McCaffrey.
With Ballymena flat and time running out they couldn't take advantage of the extra man. In added time Millar turned an Owens knock down well over the bar before McCloskey struck wide before the final whistle sounded. Dungannon cruised home to deservedly lift their first senior trophy and capitalise on a performance from defending champions Ballymena that was simply not good enough to challenge in a major final.
Ballymena United travel to Seaview to take on league leaders next Saturday, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Tony Kane, Kyle Owens, Cathair Friel, Conor McCloskey ( 90), Andrew Burns ( 53 Patrick Weir 67), Kofi Balmer ( 35 Fra McCaffrey 83), Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar ( 90), Willie Faulkner ( Matthew Shevlin 67), Johnny McMurray.

Subs not used: Johnny Flynn, Conor Quigley.