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


Uploaded Saturday, 18th Mar, 2023 at 07:40

Date: Friday, 17th March, 2023; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 2033;
Larne [1] [1]
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Venue: Inver Park; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Steven Gregg; Assistant 1: Gavin Hegarty; Assistant 2: David Burns; 4th Official: Declan Hassan;
[1-0] Ryan, Andrew (44 mins)

BALLYMENA United's struggles for points and goals continued as they lost 1-0 to rivals and league leaders Larne at Inver Park on Friday night.
United made two changes to the starting line up just three days on from their last outing in the late defeat to Glentoran, as Ross Redman and Michael Place made way for Steven McCullough and Jack Henderson.
The challenge facing the Sky Blues couldn't have been much harder given the form of the two clubs and from the off Ballymena were under siege in the first half. The first chance was a big one and fell the way of an in-form Andrew Ryan when he was slipped in one on one, but Jordan Williamson made a terrific stop with his legs as Ryan looked to slot it under him. Less than a minute later Ryan went close again when he sweetly caught a half volley on the edge of the box, only to see it come back off the post, before Williamson saved well again from Paul O'Neill.
In the first half the visitors were being suffocated by their hosts with United barely seeing the ball, but to their credit they defended well to try and limit the chances created. However, the sheer volume of possession the Inver Reds enjoyed was always going to find opportunities, and as they came again O'Neill was denied twice more.
Ballymena looked to be battling their way towards the break without conceding, but after Leroy Millar missed a golden chance with a free header off a corner, the Braidmen were finally broke down a minute before half-time. David McDaid was dispossessed around halfway by Shaun Want, who found Millar. He slid a ball in for O'Neill who lifted it over Williamson, but on the line Ryan was waiting to make sure it went in as he tapped home from close range.
Ballymena had defended resolutely in the first half and did well to stay switched on for so long at the back as wave after wave of slick moves brought Larne within sight of United's goal, who were often chasing shadows, but in the second half those chances stopped as neither side really created anything meaningful.
It was a half in which Ballymena saw far more of the ball than they had in the first, but glaringly obvious again was the lack of any cutting edge. On fifty-eight minutes came probably Ballymena's best chance at levelling up. A free kick from McCullough close to the corner flag was flicked on by McDaid at the front post, but his touch missed everyone in the six yard box and with no one to poke it in it ran out for a goal kick.
As a strange half went on, Ballymena continued to push on without really pushing on as more possession yielded no openings, but Larne themselves looked out of ideas going forward at times, and on sixty-nine minutes came the only proper effort at goal in the whole half, but Millar's head flew well over.
Scot Whiteside had replaced Wilson, who impressed at the back, midway through the half, but as Place and Gibson came on late on, the Braidmen just couldn't take that extra step to cause Larne problems.
With a few more gaps appearing for Larne as added time loomed, it was almost 2-0 when Mark Randall's ball across goal was for the onrushing Thomas Maguire, but in keeping with the rest of the half, he missed the ball on the slide and the chance was gone.
Inside five minutes of added time the encounter was dying out towards a second narrow 1-0 defeat on the spin, but in virtually the last play of the game came drama United could've done without. A free kick gave Ballymena the chance to load the box for one final go at equalising, including Williamson coming up to get in the mix.
However, when a poor set piece was cleared, Randall charged away for Larne towards the empty goal, only to be stopped in his tracks by a needless challenge from behind from Williamson around the halfway line, resulting in a straight red card for the goalkeeper. Some may well debate whether red was the right colour of card, but given United's current alarming lack of 'keepers, it was a challenge that didn't need to be made with a cup semi-final looming.
Kym Nelson donned the gloves for the final few seconds but wasn't worked, but it's another defeat and blank drawn for United, who mostly stood up to a barrage in the first half, before settling down a bit in the second, but ultimately the Sky Blues failed to register a single effort at goal throughout the ninety minutes.
Ballymena United host Glenavon in their last pre-split game next Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Jordan Williamson, Kym Nelson ( 87), Douglas Wilson ( 31 Scot Whiteside 66), David McDaid, Ryan Waide ( Michael Place 83), Steven McCullough, Kenneth Kane, Jack Henderson ( 90), Robert McVarnock ( Jordan Gibson 83), Sean Graham, Craig Farquhar.

Subs not used: Marcus Thompson, Evan Tweed, Andrew McGrory, George Tipton.