Home News Fixtures Tables Squad Commercial Info History Shop Under 20s
To Be Confirmed

Conor Keeley joins United

Uploaded Saturday, 21st Dec, 2019 at 07:01

Date: Friday, 20th December, 2019; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1003;
Ballymena United [0] [2]
Glenavon [0] [1]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Arnold Hunter; Assistant 1: Gareth Eakin; Assistant 2: Adam Jeffrey; 4th Official: Andrew Davey;
[1-0] FRIEL, Cathair (47 mins), [1-1] JENKINS, Jordan (50 mins), [2-1] FRIEL, Cathair (90 mins)

CATHAIR Friel's injury time winner made it three wins in a row for Ballymena United with a 2-1 victory over Glenavon at The Showgrounds on Friday night.
It wasn't exactly an action packed start to the game with both teams starting cautiously. Kofi Balmer did well to stop Conor McCloskey getting a shot away in the early stages, before Andrew Doyle advanced from the back and called Jordan Williamson into action from distance. Ballymena's first real opening was a good one when Andrew Burns put Cathair Friel though. Friel, in a great position, opted to square it to Adam Lecky instead of shooting, but his pass was poor and the chance was gone. Seconds later Lecky almost capitalised on some hesitancy by Jonny Tuffey on the edge of his box, with the goalkeeper just about salvaging the situation at the second attempt.
Former Sky Blue McCloskey could've netted against his old side when a great ball by Josh Daniels allowed McCloskey in, but Williamson was off his line well to deny him. As the half progressed both sides looked long to try and get in behind defences, however it was to little avail, but both managed some decent play on the ground. Another long through ball from Burns came off when it went all the way through to James Knowles who took it to the by-line and found Lecky, but he was too close to Tuffey who smothered the chance.
The trading of chances continued towards the end of the half with first Williamson doing well to be alert and claw Andy Hall's corner off the line, before at the other end Ryan Harpur did exceptionally well on the right to get a cross in for Friel, whose looping header was cleared off the line by Doyle. With virtually the last kick off the half Ballymena had a bit of a scare as Sammy Clingan lined up a free kick from 20 yards out, but it nicked the wall on the way over as the half ended with a fair scoreline.
The Braidmen made the ideal start to the second half as they took the lead just two minutes in. Knowles played in Lecky over the top, and after Lecky managed to stay onside he squared it again for Friel, but this time it was successful as Friel finished into the roof of the net.
United were ahead for all of three minutes when The Lurgan Blues levelled through Jordan Jenkins. The goal came as the result of some good luck for Glenavon as Clingan's poorly hit shot from outside the box landed at the feet of Jenkins, who then slotted past Williamson.
Until added time it looked like the early goal scoring at the start of the half would be as good as it got as the half failed to produce many fireworks. Friel had a half chance to regain the lead for the hosts when he was well found by Tony Kane, but under pressure from Doyle and Daniel Larmour, Friel could only scoop the ball into Tuffey's arms. Williamson made another solid stop to keep Jenkins out before Ballymena were forced into a change when an injured Harpur was replaced by Josh Kelly. Arguably Williamson's best save of the night came when Daniels met a cross first time, but United's shot stopper got down well to make the save to his left.
The Sky Blues passed up a golden opportunity twenty minutes from time. Kelly found Steven McCullough who advanced into the box and crossed for Friel, but he made a mess of the finish from 6 yards out and blasted over. A lacklustre and rather dull final fifteen minutes to the game saw both sides probably accepting that a draw was the likely outcome, a result no one could argue with, but just like in this fixture last season Ballymena won it in time added on.
Substitute Shane McGinty found Lecky on the byline, and after Lecky sat down Doyle he had time to pick out Friel at the back post and his first time finish found the back of the net. United saw out the remaining seconds with ease to make it three wins on the spin to continue their climb out of that horrible run of form and make it a happier Christmas for Sky Blues ahead of Boxing Day.
Ballymena United travel up the A26 next Thursday to face Coleraine in the annual Boxing Day Derby day game.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Jordan Williamson, Tony Kane, Ryan Harpur ( Joshua Kelly 60), Cathair Friel, James Knowles ( 45 Shane McGinty 75), Steven McCullough, Andrew Burns, Andrew McGrory, Kofi Balmer, Jim Ervin, Adam Lecky.

Subs not used: Ross Glendinning, Scot Whiteside, Kenneth Kane, Reece Glendinning, Ross Lavery.