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

Lisburn Distillery Match Preview
Uploaded Wednesday, 15th Feb, 2023 at 06:31

Date: Tuesday, 14th February, 2023; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 320;
Carrick Rangers [1] [1]
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Venue: Belfast Loughshore Arena; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Ben McMaster; Assistant 1: George Argyropoulos; Assistant 2: Andrew Nethery; 4th Official: Tony Clarke;
[1-0] MACUILAITIS, Nedas (29 mins)

BALLYMENA United's disappointing run of league form continued as they drew a blank yet again in a 1-0 defeat to Carrick Rangers at the Loughview Leisure Arena on Tuesday evening.
United saw three changes from Saturday's drab goalless draw with Portadown, as Jordan Williamson, Sean Graham and David McDaid all dropped out for Sean O'Neill, Kym Nelson and Jordan Gibson.
After a string of disappointing results in the league, but even more worryingly a lack of goals, United needed to click back into gear against one of their direct challengers for 7th spot, but again from the off it looked like being one of those nights.
Early on, in front of a considerably lower crowd than usual at Taylors Avenue, Carrick had the first chance when a mistake from Douglas Wilson let Nedas Maciulaitis in, but he overran the ball just too much and collided with O'Neill as he went to shoot, leaving the 'keeper with a knock he had to manage for the remainder of the game.
The visitors were struggling to get anything to stick up top, but most of their limited chances throughout the night seemed to fall the way of Gibson, and his first one saw him strike the woodwork. A lobbed pass from Joshua Kelly from the middle found Gibson inside the box, and his first time strike on the half volley forced Ross Glendinning into tipping the ball onto the crossbar.
After a couple of errors from Michael Place ended with first Maciulaitis sliding a shot just wide, and then Ben Tilney firing wide from distance, a scrappy piece of Sky Blue defending helped Carrick go ahead twenty-eight minutes in. A long throw in into the Ballymena box was poorly dealt with on a couple of occasions as United failed to clear their lines, and eventually in a crowded box the ball dropped for Maciulaitis, who slammed home his first Carrick goal into the corner to make it 1-0.
It took until the end of the half for anymore action in either box, but as the away side slowly crept their way into the game, they had a large penalty appeal turned down when a strike from Steven McCullough took a couple of ricochets before appearing to strike a Carrick arm. As United's appeals continued from the bench, it almost didn't matter when the ball fell to Gibson in a great position seconds later, but he took too long over the ball, before seeing a close range shot blocked.
In the dying embers of the half a David Cushley free kick went under the wall but into the hands of O'Neill, before Tilney ended a tidy run by striking narrowly wide, as a half low in quality narrowly swayed the hosts way.
The second half was one simply starved of chances from the get go till its conclusion, as time and time again Ballymena came up dry as they looked long for a leveller. That said, the Braidmen made a fairly bright start to the half, and after Gibson had narrowly missed getting on the end of a Ross Redman free kick, Place ended a driving run forward by seeing a long range attempt drift wide.
Those chances came in the opening ten minutes, but it would take until the final ten for another for either side that was worth talking about. United's skipper Kelly tried his best to be busy in midfield, but all too often it felt like he would be the only one capable of getting something going, and the more scrappy the half became, the more likely the scoreline looked like staying as it was, with very little splitting the teams.
With ten to go there was finally a shot towards goal when Tilney fired over from the edge of the box, before a massive chance passed United by. Kenneth Kane was introduced with around fifteen minutes to go in place of McCullough, and when the forward was able to swing a cross in for Gibson, he couldn't have asked for a much better chance, but a fairly weak header rather summed up his evening in front of goal, as in the end Glendinning made a somewhat comfortable save.
That would turn out to be the one big chance the visitors got, and whilst they did put some pressure on the Carrick goal late on, Kym Nelson turning a really awkward chance over and Jack Henderson blazing over twice was as close as they came.
Up the other end, Maciulaitis possibly should've wrapped things up with a couple of minutes to go when he eased passed United's defender's to get on the end of a long ball, only to lob both O'Neill and the bar, but it mattered not in the end as Ballymena produced another performance that there wasn't much to love about on Valentines Day, as their wait for a goal, let alone win, in the league stretches to five games.
Ballymena United host Glentoran in the Danske Bank Premiership on Friday evening, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Sean O'Neill, Kym Nelson, Ross Redman, Douglas Wilson ( 44), Scot Whiteside, Joshua Kelly, Ryan Waide, Steven McCullough ( Kenneth Kane 72), Jack Henderson, Jordan Gibson, Michael Place.

Subs not used: Marcus Thompson, Andrew McGrory, George Tipton, David Taylor, Lewis Tennant, Craig Farquhar.

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