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To Be Confirmed

Danske Bank Premiership fixtures announced

Uploaded Saturday, 26th Feb, 2022 at 19:58

Date: Saturday, 26th February, 2022; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 2913;
Coleraine [1] [1]
Ballymena United [1] [1]
Venue: Coleraine Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Andrew Davey; Assistant 1: Ryan Kelsey; Assistant 2: David Burns; 4th Official: Keith Kennedy;
Goals:
[1-0] KANE, Lyndon (pen 28 mins), [1-1] LOUGHRAN, Caolan (37 mins)

CAOLAN Loughran grabbed the equaliser as a battling Ballymena United picked up a point in a 1-1 draw with Coleraine in a tightly contested derby game at the Coleraine Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
Suspensions, injuries and Covid forced Ballymena into five changes from last Saturday, including a wrath of changes at the back as Caolan Loughran, Kym Nelson and Sean Graham partnered as a trio at centre half. However, United were boosted by the return of Josh Kelly to the line up after over five minutes out through injury, while David Jeffrey was back in the dug out following isolation.
A packed Coleraine Showgrounds wasn't treated to much of a spectacle for the opening twenty minutes in strong winds, with a couple of advertising boards being blown onto the pitch the only cause for excitement.
The second half of the first period made up for the quiet opening however, and after Sean O'Neill held a Josh Carson shot well, Coleraine were awarded a penalty on twenty-six minutes. Andrew Davey wasn't keen to give much early on, but this time adjudged Mikey Place to have brought down Josh Carson in the box. Lyndon Kane stepped up and his fairly poorly hit penalty somehow squeezed its way in past O'Neill.
It looked like going from bad to worse for the Braidmen just four minutes later when Coleraine were awarded a second penalty. James McLaughlin latched onto a through ball, but was taken out by O'Neill after he'd lobbed the 'keeper. Kane stepped up again, but he couldn't repeat his earlier trick as this time he sent the spot kick over the crossbar and into the home fans.
United's makeshift defence had done well, with Nelson doing a good job considering he'd moved in from midfield, and after seeing off a rocky ten or so minutes, Ballymena grew into it off the back of Kane's miss. On thirty-five minutes Kenny Kane did well to chase down a Steven McCullough ball, a job clearly tasked to Kane in the first half, and his cut ball back from the by-line fell to Leroy Millar in acres of space on the edge of the box, but he could only fire wide.
That Millar miss was soon forgotten about two minutes later as Loughran marked his recall to the starting XI with his second goal of the season. United won a corner in front of the away support and Place's perfect ball in was met at the near post by Loughran who enjoyed the celebration's after he'd nodded home at the near post.
Coleraine reacted well to conceding and a neat turn by McLaughlin saw him create space before trickling a shot just wide, before O'Neill made a great stop to deny Carson, as a good half in tough conditions ended level.
After a pretty even first half, the second half was more of a defensive shift from the Sky Blues for a lot of the half. Chances were few and far between early on, with a McLaughlin shot easy work for O'Neill, before Carson skewed a shot high and wide. Patrick Kelly was a first half sub for Coleraine and caused some problems with direct running, leading him to flash a shot just wide after a dash towards goal. On sixty-six minutes Ballymena were incensed, and not for the first time, when referee Davey awarded the Bannsiders a questionable corner, and from the set piece Matthew Shevlin glanced a header from close range just wide off the far post.
It had been a tough twenty minutes for United but eighteen minutes from time with their first good chance of the half Ballymena could've led when Kenny Kane was played in through the middle, but his namesake on the other team Lyndon Kane pressured him as he shot straight at Gareth Deane. Straight down the other end the hosts couldn't have come any closer to retaking the lead when Shevlin went close again, this time rocketing a shot off United's bar.
In amongst two double changes for the Sky Blues, the sides traded chances as first Paul McElroy glanced a McCullough ball just over, before Millar fired over from distance, while at the other end a Glackin cross was well held by an outstanding O'Neill after a late flick from McLaughlin surely put him off. One of those substitutions from David Jeffrey saw Kelly removed, but after so long out, the midfielder put in a display to contend for man of the match.
Late on Ballymena were under sustained pressure, but saw it eased time and time again by O'Neill who was simply superb throughout the second half as he commanded his box to probably take United's man of the match title from Kelly.
With two minutes left, having soaked up so much pressure, United almost saw themselves taking three points back up the A26 when sub Ryan Waide saw a first time snapshot come clattering back off the post. In five minutes of added time Curtis Allen thought he'd won it for the hosts, only to see a close range tap in ruled out for offside. At the death Stephen O'Donnell headed over, as United, who battled till the end, came away with a deserved point in a gritty performance, with the away support showing their full appreciation at full time.
Up next for United is the quarter-finals of the Samuel Gelston's Whiskey Irish Cup at the Showgrounds next Saturday afternoon, Larne the opponents.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill ( 32), Michael Place ( 74), Caolan Loughran ( 65), Kym Nelson, Sean Graham, Steven McCullough, Joshua Kelly ( Andrew McGrory 83), Leroy Millar, Jack Henderson ( Brendan Barr 76 90), Kenneth Kane ( Ryan Waide 83), Paul McElroy ( David Parkhouse 76).

Subs not used: Ciaran Gallagher, Lee Chapman, Daniel Bramall.