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Conor Keeley joins United

Uploaded Saturday, 16th Nov, 2019 at 19:20

Date: Saturday, 16th November, 2019; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1441;
Cliftonville [0] [1]
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Venue: Solitude; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Lee Tavinder; Assistant 1: Gareth Eakin; Assistant 2: Adrian Sobieski; 4th Official: Gareth Stewart;
[1-0] DONNELLY, Rory (51 mins)

BALLYMENA United's long wait for a win goes on after a battling performance wasn't enough to prevent a 1-0 loss to Cliftonville at Solitude.
Aaron Burns and Josh Kelly were absent from the side that lost to Carrick with Ross Lavery dropping to the bench. Shane McGinty, Ryan Mayse and Declan Carville came into United's starting XI. With The Sky Blues struggling for form and the Reds flying high in second place in the league, the hosts were always likely to see more of the ball and that was the case in the first half. Within 30 seconds Cliftonville went close when Joe Gormley got in behind Jonny Addis to latch onto a long ball, but Addis did well to recover and make a crucial block.
The Reds continued to create early on and a fine passing move started and ended with Ronan Doherty, but Ross Glendinning palmed his shot over the crossbar. From the resulting corner Glendinning did well to stop the ball on the line after it hit Andrew Burns. On 11 minutes Aaron Donnelly forced another stop out of Glendinning when he cut in from the left, with United clearing up the rebound despite some theatrics from Joe Gormley to try and win a penalty.
A quarter of an hour in the first of a few flashpoints occured involving almost all 22 players, with Mayse seemingly lucky to escape with just a yellow. A couple of minutes later Conor McDermott found Gormley with a great ball, but from close range he could only head over. Despite Cliftonville having all of the chances, Ballymena were holding their own and seeing a fair bit of the ball, but hadn't anything to show for it in front of goal. Towards the end of the half McGinty tried his luck from distance but saw his effort soar into the stand behind the goal.
With a couple of minutes left to half-time Aaron Donnelly slipped in his namesake Ruaidhri with what was arguably the chance of the half, but he curled his effort wide as the half ended goalless.
The second half started poorly for The Braidmen as they fell behind just 6 minutes in. Gormley played in his strike partner Ruardhri Donnelly on the edge of the box and he did well to get the ball out of his feet and fire a fine effort into the bottom corner, out of the reach of Glendinning.
Going behind seemed to give Ballymena the green light to have a go at Cliftonville and for the remaining half hour it was United having far more of the openings. First to go close was Jonny Addis who had a go from all of 25 yards but saw his effort drift wide, before Mayse registered United's first shot on target, but his shot caused Richard Brush little cause for concern. A double sub 20 minutes from time from David Jeffrey saw Leo Brown and Ross Lavery replace Mayse and Kenny Kane.
Down the other end Ruardhri Donnelly almost sealed things for Cliftonville. Jim Ervin was beaten by the bounce of the ball which allowed Donnelly in, with his first time volley well saved by Glendinning. With 20 minutes to go Addis tried an almost carbon copy shot to the one he had 10 minutes prior, this time going closer but still seeing the ball go narrowly wide.
On 84 minutes Ballymena's best chance of game almost, and possibly should've, brought them level. Brown did exceptionally well to keep the ball and found Andy McGrory. His cross narrowly missed Brown but feel to Jude Winchester at the back post, but from 6 yards out and no one near him could only put the ball agonisingly over.
Carville saw a header in added time go straight at Brush, but United's effort failed to yield a goal as Cliftonville held on, yet they were pushed all the way by the Sky Blues.
Ballymena United host Harland and Wolff Welders in the semi-finals of the Toals Co Antrim Shield on Wednesday evening, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Author Name
Ballymena United Team:
Ross Glendinning, Jonathan Addis ( 89), Ryan Mayse ( 15 Ross Lavery 70), Shane McGinty ( 68), Steven McCullough ( 60), Kenneth Kane ( Leo Brown 70), Andrew Burns ( 33), Declan Carville ( 87), Andrew McGrory ( 88), Jude Winchester, Jim Ervin.

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Reece Glendinning, Ethan Warnock, Spencer Beattie, Arynn Annett.