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

Lisburn Distillery Match Preview
Uploaded Friday, 7th Apr, 2023 at 21:48

Date: Friday, 7th April, 2023; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 630;
Portadown [1] [1]
Ballymena United [0] [0]
Venue: Shamrock Park; Kick-Off: 19:45;
Referee: Ben McMaster; Assistant 1: John Doherty; Assistant 2: Bogdan Sfirloaga; 4th Official: Christopher Morrison;
[1-0] FRIEL, Cathair (10 mins)

BALLYMENA United kicked off their post split fixtures with another poor performance as they went down 1-0 to bottom club Portadown at Shamrock Park on Good Friday evening.
After being reduced to nine men in Monday night's defeat at home to Glenavon, those suspensions played a part in four United changes as Ryan Waide, Kenneth Kane and Kym Nelson came in for David McDaid, Steven McCullough and Douglas Wilson. Also dropping out was Sean O'Neill as he continues to get over his injury problems, and it meant a first senior appearance for teenage goalkeeper Marcus Thompson.
As half's go, the first couldn't have gone much worse for Ballymena who were outplayed by the basement side for the majority of the first half. The Ports were fast out of the blocks and their tenth minute opener really had been coming from the off. The hosts first chance fell the way of Cathair Friel when he was picked out by Alan O'Sullivan, only for Scot Whiteside to make a timely block, before Paddy McNally's first time strike from the edge of the box was well held by Thompson on debut.
Nine minutes in Thompson bettered his earlier save to deny Friel. The ex-United man beat Kym Nelson and then continued to shift inside in the box, before unleashing a strong shot that was very well saved, but from the resulting corner Portadown scored. Alberto Balde's corner to the front post was met by Friel and the slightest of touches from his head sent the ball in at the far post for 1-0.
Portadown kept coming after the goal with United all over the place, as Balde cut inside and curled a shot inches over the bar, and minutes later O'Sullivan got in over the top, only to flash a shot well wide.
Around the half mark came what would be the Braidmen's only shot of any kind in the first period, but Jordan Gibson's long range effort sailed well over to sum up a first half in which Ballymena saw little of the ball in good areas and when they did, there was a real lack of quality, with Niall Currie's men possibly disappointed to only be one ahead at the break.
The good news at half time for those supporters who had travelled down to Mid Ulster was that the second half couldn't really be any worse than the first, and there certainly was more purpose about the Sky Blues at the start of the second half. A couple of minutes in Kenneth Kane took a run down the left and into the box, and after eventually sorting his feet he saw his effort nick off the base of the near post as it went out.
Ten minutes later Kane went down the left again and this time crossed for Robert McVarnock at the back of the box. McVarnock flicked the ball over his man's head before firing a volley goalwards, but Jethren Barr was across to gather the ball.
On the hour mark there was a carbon copy of a week ago at Seaview when Sean Graham was brought down in a similar position just outside the box, and with no Douglas Wilson it was Ross Redman who stepped up, but he saw his free kick bend round the wall, but off the post and wide.
It would turn out that brighter fifteen minute spell was probably the only time a Ballymena goal would come, with next to nothing coming by way of chances for the remainder of the game.
The hosts missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 when Jordan Archer stooped low for a diving header unmarked at the back post, but he could only head over, before Mark Russell drifted in untouched from the left, only for a fantastic Whiteside tackle to deny him as he pulled the trigger.
Evan Tweed came on for just his third league appearance, and first since August, following an injury hit season, as he looks to potentially build minutes with Steven McCullough injured and Jack Henderson leaving the club.
With Portadown now back in control, Balde flicked a ball across the box for substitute Benny Igiehon, who saw his shot parried out by Thompson before the youngster gathered the ball again quickly, but five minutes from time Balde would have the chance to put the game to bed from the spot. Balde was hauled down just inside the box and got up to hit the spot kick himself, however Thompson gave himself something to remember from his first senior game as he guessed the right way to deny the forward.
In the end the missed penalty wouldn't matter with United simply unable to find the quality needed to create a chance let alone a goal. A huge win for Portadown at the bottom, but for Ballymena it's now two goals in thirteen league games and no league wins in just under four months, with their only win that Irish Cup semi a week ago.
Ballymena United are on the road again on Tuesday evening when they travel to Mourneview Park to face Glenavon, kicking off at 7:45pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Marcus Thompson, Kym Nelson ( Michael Place 85), Ross Redman, Scot Whiteside, Joshua Kelly ( 44), Ryan Waide ( Evan Tweed 65 87), Kenneth Kane, Jordan Gibson, Robert McVarnock ( 45 Andrew McGrory 85), Sean Graham ( 80), Craig Farquhar.

Subs not used: George Tipton, David Taylor, Lewis Tennant, Nathan Clarke.

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