Tuesday 3rd October v. Lisburn Distillery (home) - BetMcLean League Cup rd1 - k.o: 7:45pm

Dungannon Swifts Match Report
Uploaded Saturday, 28th Jan, 2023 at 19:06

Date: Saturday, 28th January, 2023; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 1715;
Cliftonville [2] [4]
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Venue: Solitude; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Jamie Robinson; Assistant 1: Stephen Donaldson; Assistant 2: Gavin Hegarty; 4th Official: Michael McKenna;
[1-0] GORMLEY, Joe (30 mins), [2-0] GORMLEY, Joe (pen 43 mins), [3-0] HALE, Ronan (74 mins), [4-0] MOORE, Sean (77 mins)

BALLYMENA United were well beaten by league leaders Cliftonville as they went down 4-0 at Solitude on Saturday afternoon.
After United's scoreless draw on Tuesday night with Newry City at the Showgrounds, there were three changes as Ross Redman and Joshua Kelly came in to start, as did Robert McVarnock who made his first start for the club.
Despite the Reds sitting at the top of a crowded league table, United had fond memories of their last encounter with Cliftonville after a 4-1 win at the Showgrounds in early December, and despite the hosts being on top, Ballymena were well in the game for the opening half hour. Inside five minutes the away side had a decent penalty appeal turned down when Sean Graham went down inside the box, but with nothing given Sean Moore tested Sean O'Neill straight up the other end.
As Cliftonville began to assert control, chances followed and Joe Gormley looked set to score when he got in over the top, but an important last-ditch Douglas Wilson touch prevented the shot. O'Neill was called into action shortly afterwards to deny first Ronan Hale with a fine stop, and then his brother Rory, but on the half hour mark Ballymena's strong resistance was broken. Rory Hale ran onto a Ronan Doherty ball and crossed for Gormley, but just as the ball looked to have too much on it, Gormley brought it down at the back post, before spinning and firing into the far corner for a tidy goal.
Despite being behind and seeing a good deal less of the ball, United certainly weren't being swamped, but it should've been 2-0 on thirty-eight minutes. Levi Ives got in too easily and fired across goal for Gormley who found space on the penalty spot, but he scuffed his shot wide, however five minutes later Gormley would have a second in controversial circumstances. Cliftonville were awarded a penalty when Steven McCullough brought down Moore seemingly outside the box, but United's players and fans behind the goal were left infuriated when the man with the whistle Jamie Robinson instead pointed to the penalty spot, judging the contact to have been inside the box, contrary to the TV pictures. The decision of a penalty stood and Gormley despatched of it to double the Reds' lead going into the break.
Cliftonville's half time lead was deserved, but the Braidmen had held their own, however a lack of cutting edge compared to the hosts was the difference. In the opening twenty minutes of the second period, bar a good, strong hand from O'Neill to deny Ronan Hale, it was the Sky Blues finally creating some chances.
On his first start, McVarnock was arguably the away side's best player and almost capped an impressive day with a goal when he collected the ball on the edge of the box, but with the 'keeper beat his shot came off the crossbar. Ten minutes later Redman's cross found Michael Place in the box, but as he couldn't quite sort his feet to shoot, he instead teed up Kelly, who saw his effort take a nick on its way through as it went agonisingly wide of the right post. From the corner McVarnock again tried his luck from the edge of the box, only to see his bending shot held by Nathan Gartside, but it was better from United, who were still missing that clinical edge to score.
With just over fifteen minutes to go Cliftonville put any hopes of a United comeback to bed as they turned a spell of possession into a third goal. The Hale brothers exchanged a one-two in and around the Ballymena box and it was Ronan in the end who spun Redman and smashed home down the middle of the goal.
The hosts third no doubt knocked the stuffing out of Ballymena and just three minutes later things got worse as the table toppers added a fourth. Ives pounced on a loose ball and it eventually fell to Moore, who with only O'Neill to beat slammed home across the goal to the far corner.
The final fifteen minutes rather petered out, with Cliftonville's work done for the day and United well beaten, and despite sub Ryan Waide having what looked to be a foul on him in the box not given, it mattered not as Cliftonville eased home. The scoreline flattering the hosts in the end, but nonetheless United suffer a heavy defeat as they continue to struggle on the road.
Ballymena United host Newington in the 6th round of the Samuel Gelston's Whiskey Irish Cup next Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Ross Redman, Douglas Wilson ( Jordan Gibson 73), Scot Whiteside, David McDaid, Joshua Kelly, Steven McCullough ( 42), Jack Henderson, Robert McVarnock ( Andrew McGrory 82), Sean Graham, Michael Place ( Ryan Waide 82).

Subs not used: Jordan Williamson, Kym Nelson, Kenneth Kane, Craig Farquhar.

Click here to view article on desktop site