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Uploaded Saturday, 16th Feb, 2019 at 22:42

Date: Saturday, 16th February, 2019; Competition: BetMcLean League Cup - Final; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Linfield [1] [1]
Venue: National Stadium; Kick-Off: 17:30;
Referee: Andrew Davey; Assistant 1: Stephen Bell; Assistant 2: Ken Ross; 4th Official: Steven Gregg;
[0-1] WATERWORTH, Andrew (15 mins)

BALLYMENA United were unlucky on Saturday evening as they lost by a single goal to Linfield in an entertaining BetMcLean League Cup Final.
United, the League Cup winners in 2017, and finalists in 4 of the last 5 years, took on a Linfield side looking for their first League Cup success since 2008.
It was a fairly even start to proceedings in the capital before the first chance fell to the Sky Blues. Cathair Friel teed up James Knowles on the edge of the box but his effort was deflected onto the outside of the post. Linfield first threatened the Ballymena goal on 10 minutes from a Kirk Millar free kick which drifted just wide from all of 30 yards.
A quarter of an hour in Linfield broke the deadlock with what would be the only goal of the game. Josh Robinson was given the freedom of Windsor Park to make his way through the Ballymena half before finding Niall Quinn. He in turn found Andy Waterworth who only needed one touch to create space before drilling his effort into the bottom corner past Ross Glendinning.
The Braidmen responded well to going behind and went close to equalising soon afterwards when Adam Lecky sent a header narrowly wide at the near post from a Knowles free kick. As the half progressed Leroy Millar started to become more and more involved and he went close with an effort on the turn, but it was straight at Gareth Deane.
United had more of the ball but Linfield still looked dangerous going forward as Glendinning had to be alert to stop a half volley from Quinn. As the half came to close a late tackle on Jamie Mulgrew by skipper Jim Ervin resulted in a booking for Ervin and a flashpoint followed that saw Quinn carded for a forceful push on Ervin. In added first half time a header back to Deane from Jimmy Callacher caught the 'keeper off guard and he was able to just about scramble the ball away as the half ended 1-0, a scoreline that was far less than United deserved.
Most of the second half was played inside the Linfield half as Ballymena piled on the pressure for the whole 45 minutes, with Linfield unable to gain any respite until the close of the game. A half-time change saw Tony Kane replace Knowles, who had been caught by a challenge at the end of the first period.
Friel had Ballymena's first attempt of the half when he was teed up by strike partner Lecky, but his goalbound shot was blocked by Callacher. Deane's first save of the half came on 52 minutes when Jude Winchester's low shot from outside the box forced The Blues' shot-stopper to get down and push the ball wide. A minute later United struck the woodwork for a second time when Steven McCullough hit the near post directly from a corner and the rebound from inside the 6 yard box was blazed over by Friel in arguably the chance of the game.
The Sky Blues continued their assault on the Linfield goal with Millar heading a tame effort straight at Deane before Andy McGrory picked out Friel at the back post but his header was well saved by Deane who tipped it over.
Linfield's first real break forward in the half on the hour mark saw Millar cut the ball back to the edge of the box for Kyle McClean, but Ervin got in the way of his shot. As the final 15 minutes approached United had Linfield's defence scrambling with ball after ball into the box, many from an impressive Kofi Balmer, but none of those crosses were quite falling United's way, as you got the feeling it mightn't be David Jeffrey's mens' day.
Ballymena threw on Johnny McMurray and Matthew Shevlin as they went all out for a leveller and it was McMurray who switched play beautifully to play in McGrory, but his shot was pulled wide. Linfield almost wrapped the game up from a corner in the closing stages but Josh Robinson could only head wide from a good position.
Kane had Ballymena's final two chances with a fine effort from 20 yards that sailed onto the roof of the net before he fired over with the last kick of the game as Linfield held out to secure the win. A hard one to take for United who threw everything at the league leaders, but that all important goal couldn't be found to give a fantastic crowd and performance the outcome they craved.
The same teams face each other at the same venue next Saturday, with a crucial Danske Bank Premiership game, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Jonathan Addis, Cathair Friel ( 76), James Knowles ( Tony Kane 46), Steven McCullough, Andrew McGrory ( Matthew Shevlin 83), Kofi Balmer ( 63), Jude Winchester ( Johnny McMurray 74 87), Jim Ervin ( 42), Adam Lecky, Leroy Millar.

Subs not used: Thomas McDermott, Conor Quigley, Scot Whiteside, Willie Faulkner.