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Coleraine Match Preview

Uploaded Saturday, 28th Sep, 2019 at 19:30

Date: Saturday, 28th September, 2019; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1547;
Ballymena United [0] [2]
Cliftonville [1] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Evan Boyce; Assistant 1: Neil Gillespie; Assistant 2: Gavin Hegarty; 4th Official: Peter McGrath;
[0-1] DONNELLY, Rory (24 mins), [1-1] McGRORY, Andrew (57 mins), [2-1] McDERMOTT, Conor (69 mins)

BALLYMENA United came from behind to pick up an important three points with a 2-1 victory over Cliftonville at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
United made two changes to the side that lost to Glenavon last week, with Cathair Friel and Kofi Balmer making way for Josh Kelly and Scot Whiteside. After going three games without a win in all competitions and suffering a dip in form, United needed to bounce back, but struggled again for most of the first half in an all-round quiet opening 45.
Cliftonville started the better with Conor McMenamin flashing a shot wide before Whiteside was forced to put the ball narrowly over his own crossbar after a good ball in from Joe Gormley. With Friel and Adam Lecky both missing through injury, United were lacking options when trying to go forward. When Ballymena did manage to get numbers into the box Steven McCullough picked out Leroy Millar who poked the ball wide.
After Glendinning saved again, this time from Gormley, he could do nothing on 24 minutes as The Reds took the lead. Good build up play ended with Gormley playing in Rory Donnelly who got in behind United's defence and finished past Glendinning, using the right post for good measure.
The Sky Blues struggled to hit back after falling behind with Richard Brush untroubled in the Cliftonville goal for the remainder of the half. The visitors weren't creating many clear chances themselves, but looked the most likely to score the second goal and at the end of the half Conor McDermott's fizzed ball across goal missed the boot of Gormley by inches, as Cliftonville took a slender lead to the break.
If the first half was poor from Ballymena, the second half was the opposite as a rejuvenated home side came out for the second half. Within the opening thirty seconds things had already improved for the hosts as Declan Carville worked Brush. The next chance also fell the way of the Braidmen and they couldn't have come much closer as Carville found Ryan Mayse, but his shot came off the top of the crossbar.
On 57 minutes Ballymena levelled through the ever-impressive McGrory, who netted his fourth of the season. Some delightful individual play from Mayse saw him wriggle his way past two Cliftonville players before finding Millar, who put a low ball across goal on a plate for McGrory to tap home.
The goal lifted the mood inside The Showgrounds and 12 minutes later Ballymena completed the turnaround. After McMenamin had a shot saved by Glendinning, Ballymena turned defence into attack and in no time at all McGrory crossed into a dangerous area. His cross was met by Mayse but his effort came off McDermott and ended up in the net to put the Sky Blues ahead.
As expected, having saw their lead disappear, Cliftonville came on strong for the final 20 minutes with United's defence worked hard. Within 5 minutes of the own goal The Reds had four decent chances. McDermott saw two shots in quick succession drift wide before Donnelly had a golden chance from six yards out, but McCullough did well to get in the way and Jamie Harney headed the resulting corner wide.
In the 85th minute, after a slight period of respite for the home side, Mayse could've wrapped up the three points. Carville, who was arguably United's best player in the second half, did well again to find Mayse, but from a carbon copy of his earlier chance, Mayse missed again, this time firing over. With Ballymena still ahead as the game moved into 3 minutes of added time, Glendinning pulled off his best save of the lot to give United the win. Cliftonville substitute Thomas Maguire played in Gormley with a minute left, but his effort was superbly tipped over by the outstanding Glendinning.
The Braidmen saw out the corner to give themselves a huge three points, an important return to winning ways and a good ending to a difficult week for the town.
Ballymena United travel to the Brandywell next Saturday afternoon to face Institute in the Danske Bank Premiership, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Jonathan Addis, Scot Whiteside ( Kofi Balmer 87), Ryan Mayse ( Kenneth Kane 87), Steven McCullough, Declan Carville ( 86), Andrew McGrory, Jude Winchester, Jim Ervin, Leroy Millar, Joshua Kelly ( 14).

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Shane McGinty, Ryan Harpur, Andrew Burns, Ross Lavery.