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Uploaded Saturday, 6th Aug, 2022 at 18:22

Date: Saturday, 6th August, 2022; Competition: Friendly; Attendance: N/A;
Ballymena United [0] [2]
Cliftonville [0] [0]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
[1-0] PLACE, Michael (71 mins), [2-0] PARKHOUSE, David (86 mins)

BALLYMENA United gave club legend Tony Kane a testimonial to remember as two second half goals gave them a 2-0 win over Cliftonville at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
Covid-19 restrictions cost United the chance to pay tribute to Kane's service to the club when the versatile set piece specialist left the club during the pandemic, but today finally provided the opportunity for Sky Blues on and off the pitch to thank Kane, as they took on another ex-club of his in Cliftonville.
Kane took the captains armband for the hosts and was given a guard of honour by both teams as he entered the pitch, but he saw his team under pressure early on, as Michael Place narrowly headed over his own bar and Sean O'Neill tipped the resulting corner over.
Ballymena grew into the game and Paul McElroy saw a long-range effort spilled by 'keeper Fynn Talley, before Talley made a nice stop with his left hand to deny McElroy again.
Whilst today was about Kane, it also the Braidmen's last pre-season game before the Danske Bank Premiership gets under way next Saturday, and there were worrying scenes when Conor Keeley stayed down after a poor challenge, and after trying to play on he was forced off ten minutes later.
Just before going off Keeley had headed over from a Kane corner before Jordan Gibson had a shot saved, as an even half ended scoreless.
Tony Kane led the Sky Blues back out for the second half and it was an impressive half of football from United. A strong start saw Talley forced to bat away an effort straight from a corner from Steven McCullough, and from the resulting corner Gibson met Kane's ball but Talley saved well.
The Reds weren't shy of a tackle or two and not long after Place was on the end of an extremely poor challenge, Ballymena were nearly ahead when usual captain Joshua Kelly saw a low driven shot from eighteen yards out fly just wide.
With sixty-four minutes gone the Showgrounds rose to its feet once more for Tony Kane, as the man with 50 goals and over 350 appearances to his name in Sky Blue left the pitch to a fantastic reception, as he was replaced by Evan Tweed, who put in a good shift.
Not long after O'Neill made a good diving stop to keep out Hale, United grabbed the game's first goal. A host of subs saw Place moved back to right back, but he was surely a man of the match contender with his performance all day and after a lovely piece of solo play on the right, he let fly from distance with a knuckleballed effort that somehow went straight through Talley and in for 1-0.
Ballymena pushed on for a second and after Kym Nelson headed over, United had a second goal late on thanks to substitute David Parkhouse. The forward pounced on sloppiness at the back from Cliftonville and after getting past Luke Turner he rounded Talley and easily finished to wrap up the win on the day for the home side.
After full time Tony Kane was given one final send off as he left the pitch with his son to another guard of honour, before a quick kiss of the Ballymena badge in front of the home support.
Tony Kane leaves the field after the game to a guard of honour from both sets of players and officials
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It's full steam ahead to next Saturday now for Ballymena, as the 2022/23 season gets underway against Glenavon on Warden Street.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Andrew McGrory ( Ryan Waide 66), Scot Whiteside ( David Parkhouse 66), Conor Keeley ( Kym Nelson 37), Ross Redman, Joshua Kelly ( Jake Corbett 84), Tony Kane ( Evan Tweed 63), Michael Place ( Lewis Tennant 89), Jordan Gibson ( Jack Henderson 84), Steven McCullough, Paul McElroy ( Kenneth Kane 66).

Subs not used: Samuel Johnston.