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Dungannon Swifts Match Preview

Uploaded Saturday, 24th Jan, 2015 at 20:22
Updated Monday, 26th Jan, 2015 at 19:57

Date: Saturday, 24th January, 2015; Competition: Wasp Solutions League Cup - Final; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [0] [2]
Cliftonville [2] [3]
Venue: National Stadium; Kick-Off: 17:30;
Referee: Raymond Crangle; Assistant 1: Stephen Donaldson; Assistant 2: Andrew Neeson; 4th Official: Stephen Bell; Additional Assistant 1: Andrew Davey; Additional Assistant 2: Keith Kennedy;
[0-1] GORMLEY, Joe (1 mins), [0-2] GORMLEY, Joe (37 mins), [1-2] CUSHLEY, David (52 mins), [2-2] CUSHLEY, David (58 mins), [2-3] DONNELLY, Martin (80 mins)

BALLYMENA United finished runners up in the 2015 WASP Solutions League Cup final by virtue of a 3-2 defeat to Cliftonville at Windsor Park on Saturday.
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Ballymena United starting squad
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The customary handshake between captains
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United made the worst possible start to proceedings as both centre backs challenged for the same ball, a long punt up field by Cliftonville goalkeeper Peter Cherrie which eventually found its way to Joe Gormley in acres of space to round Dwayne Nelson and slot the ball home in front of the jubilant Reds support in the Kop.

Darren Boyce was then felled on the edge of the penalty area but Tony Kane's powerfully hit free kick struck the wall, a good chance gone begging. Cliftonville began to turn up the heat and almost made it two when Tomas Cosgrove's cross from the right found Joe Gormley in space, but his acrobatic overhead kick effort flew just wide of the post. Jaimie McGovern was next to threaten for the Reds but headed over from a corner before United finally fashioned another chance on 31 minutes when Matthew Tipton headed wide when well placed in the box.

Cliftonville doubled their advantage on 37 minutes when United yet again failed to clear a ball into the box, allowing Eamonn Seydak to pick out Joe Gormley for his second of the afternoon from close range and put his side in a very strong position heading into the break.
The introduction of David Cushley made a huge difference
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It was evident that Glenn Ferguson would need to change something tactically if Ballymena were to get back into the game and did so by withdrawing David Munster in favour of fit again David Cushley. This change invigorated United who began to exert a spell of pressure on the Cliftonville goal.

Marty Donnelly came to the Reds' rescue on 49 minutes when he headed Tony Kane's in-swinging corner off the line. The game then turned on its head on 51 minutes when firstly Cliftonville blew a glorious chance as Jay Donnelly elected to square the ball to Joe Gormley instead of shooting when clean through on goal but Dwayne Nelson covered his angles well and collected the ball before launching a quick counter attack. This attack resulted in a corner for United, which allowed Tony Kane to pick out David Cushley at the back post, who scrambled the ball home to give the Sky Blues a fighting chance.
David Cushley claimed the first United goal
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This gave United a real lift and they duly levelled the scores on 58 minutes, Gary Thompson chased down a seemingly lost cause in the box which caused Reds defender Jaimie McGovern to panic and clear the ball straight into the path of Cushley who rifled the ball past Peter Cherrie with his so called weaker foot, sparking wild scenes of jubilation amongst the sizeable travelling support in the North Stand.
David Cushley rifles home the second United goal to draw level
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And promptly celebrates while running towards a packed North Stand
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Ballymena were on the front foot and had strong appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Raymond Crangle when Cliftonville defender Eamonn Seydak appeared to handle the ball in the box.

Eventually the Reds steadied and began to expose some alarming gaps in the United defence. In one such move Joe Gormley found Jay Donnelly in acres of space on the edge of the box but the young striker somehow missed the target in a real let off for the Sky Blues. Unfortunately, United didn't learn from this attack and continued to present opportunities for the Reds to get in behind the defence. Eventually this proved costly as Martin Donnelly took advantage of a poor defensive header from Tony Kane to curl the ball beyond Dwayne Nelson and ultimately win the cup for Cliftonville.

This goal sucked all the life left out of United, as the Reds blew a great chance to make it four in injury time after more calamitous defending, Davy McDaid found himself in space in the box only to be denied with a smart stop from Dwayne Nelson. In the end it was more cup final heartache for Ballymena who, despite showing character to force their way back into the game, will rue alarming lapses at the back as the key reason why another trophy opportunity slipped away.
Cliftonville players celebrate lifting the WASP Solutions League Cup for the third year running
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The Sky Blues are back at Windsor Park next Saturday when they take on Linfield in a league fixture, kick off 3pm.
Match Report by Jordan Miller
Ballymena United Team:
Dwayne Nelson, Tony Kane, Stephen McBride, Johnny Taylor, Gary Thompson ( Mark Surgenor 90), Darren Boyce, Allan Jenkins, Matthew Tipton, David Munster ( David Cushley 46), Brian McCaul ( Alan Teggart 88), Jim Ervin.

Subs not used: Stuart Addis, Neal Gawley.