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Dungannon Swifts Match Report
Uploaded Saturday, 15th Apr, 2023 at 18:10

Date: Saturday, 15th April, 2023; Competition: Danske Bank Premiership; Attendance: 813;
Ballymena United [0] [2]
Dungannon Swifts [0] [0]
Venue: Ballymena Showgrounds; Kick-Off: 15:00;
Referee: Ian McNabb; Assistant 1: Stephen Bell; Assistant 2: Ken Ross; 4th Official: Shane Andrews;
[1-0] GIBSON, Jordan (87 mins), [2-0] NELSON, Kym (90 mins)

BALLYMENA United picked up their first league win in four months as they secured safety from dropping into any relegation play-off in a 2-0 win over Dungannon at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
After defeat on the road on Tuesday night at Glenavon, United weren't yet mathematically clear of 11th spot, currently occupied by Dungannon, and they made two changes for this one as David McDaid and Joshua Kelly came in for Kenneth Kane and Sean Graham.
There wasn't much to write home about in the first half with both sides seeming a tad cagey, not surprising with so much on the line still. The first chance fell the hosts way, when after penalty appeals for a handball were turned down, the ball fell for McDaid but he struck over. After Ethan McGee had called Jordan Williamson into a routine save, another chance fell for McDaid and it was a massive one. It came after sensational solo work from Jordan Gibson saw him craftily beat three men down the right, and when he squared it for McDaid it looked like he couldn't miss, but somehow Declan Dunne pulled off an incredible save as he dived across his goal from nowhere.
After those chances it was the Swifts who were having the better of it and they looked the more likely to score. A handball from Douglas Wilson gave James Knowles a free kick opportunity right on the edge of the box, but he could only fire it over, before a diving headed clearance from Kelly just about went past his own post.
The half's final chance also went the visitors way as they finished strongly, as Knowles drifted past a couple of Ballymena bodies before his strong effort was wonderfully tipped over by Williamson, but nothing came from the corner as an even enough half lacking quality at times ended scoreless.
The second half also took a minute or two to get going, but when it did the Braidmen put in a good shift with one of their better half's in recent weeks. Craig Farquhar looked to keep his goal run ticking along when he met a Ross Redman cross, but after meeting it just inside the box he couldn't get the power on it to trouble Dunne too much. Ten minutes into the half McDaid tried his luck with the most audacious of efforts from a good forty yards out when he spotted Dunne off his line, but his effort drifted just wide.
United were now well in the ascendancy and after a really neat turn from McDaid gave him the space to slip Gibson in one on one, Dunne denied the big front man. Despite all the possession, Ballymena's lack of goals was on show again and they were almost caught with a haymaker at the other end. Marc Walsh spun Robert McVarnock who seemed to slightly lose his bearings, and it allowed Walsh to race clear on goal, but Williamson was up to denying him with a crucial save.
When Michael Place did well to fire in a low cross, it was turned goalwards by McDaid but again Dunne saved, and as the match entered the final ten minutes, it looked like being another frustrating day. Those frustrations grew when another chance came and went when McDaid played in substitute Andrew McGrory, but he too was denied by Dunne, before the 'keeper made a stunning save to turn Place's close-range header somehow onto the crossbar after a fine cross from Kym Nelson.
However, three minutes from time the Sky Blues finally found a way through to secure their top flight status once and for all. Kenneth Kane, not long introduced, robbed Steven Scott of the ball high up the pitch and found McDaid, who showed great composure inside the box to wait and square the ball to Gibson, who guided it home at close range to get a goal he was deserving of.
There was still time in added time for the hosts to add some gloss to the result, and it came via a freak wonder goal from Nelson inside his own half. As the ball bounced about on halfway, Nelson put his foot through it just inside his half and incredibly his clearance flew all the way to goal, were Dunne made a hash of gathering it and the ball unbelievably ended up in the back of the net.
Nelson may claim he meant it, but even the boss found that hard to believe but nonetheless after a bizarre ending at the Showgrounds, it's a much-needed win for United who have put to bed any lingering fears of being dragged into a relegation battle, with a first win in fourteen league games perhaps something to build on with just two games left until cup final day.
Ballymena United make the trip to Newry Showgrounds to face Newry City in their penultimate league game of the season next Saturday, kicking off at 3:00pm.
Match Report by Phillip McPeake
Ballymena United Team:
Jordan Williamson, Kym Nelson, Ross Redman ( Kenneth Kane 81), Douglas Wilson, Scot Whiteside ( 28), David McDaid ( Ryan Waide 88), Joshua Kelly, Jordan Gibson, Robert McVarnock ( 53 Andrew McGrory 77), Michael Place, Craig Farquhar.

Subs not used: Sean O'Neill, Evan Tweed, George Tipton, Lewis Tennant.

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