Friel Reaches Milestone As Ballymena Remain Top
Warrenpoint Town 2-4 Ballymena United
By Paul Alexander
Cathair Friel’s second goal at the Q Radio Arena on Saturday afternoon was his 50th for Ballymena United as the Sky Blues defeated Warrenpoint Town 4-2 in the Danske Bank Premiership.
The Braidmen were given an early chance to record the game’s opening goal when Danny Wallace, at the centre of Town’s back three, headed back towards his side’s goal. Although Wallace did recover to thwart Friel.
Warrenpoint also applied pressure in their attacking third inside the first five minutes. Joshua Lynch’s left wing free-kick led to a corner-kick on the right. Eamon Scannell’s delivery dropped into the penalty area before Ballymena keeper Thomas McDermott would gather.
Jude Winchester had a pair of promising opportunities for the away side within the early stages of the first-half. The first of which was a shot palmed away by Aaron McCarey after Tony Kane’s diagonal ball over to fellow wing-back Steven McCullough on the left, who supplied the midfielder.
Winchester’s second opportunity was a strong strike from the left which hit the outside of the right post. With around 20 minutes played Kane tried to directly assist Friel whose header was collected by McCarey, with the move being declared offside as well.
Town centre-forward Alan O’Sullivan tried to give his side the lead when he controlled Wallace’s lofted pass and moved infield from the right wing. However McDermott got down to receive the attempt at his near corner.
The host did go ahead ten minutes before the break when Robbie Norton netted a spot-kick after Kofi Balmer had fouled Ciaran O’Connor in the penalty area.
United levelled through Friel just three minutes after when the striker nodded in McCullough’s cross from the left wing at the back post. Friel then secured his 10th goal in all competitions with a super volley in the 46th minute of the opening period, after Emmet Hughes had tried to head Leroy Millar’s corner clear.
After two minutes of the second-half the visitors created a two-goal cushion for themselves. McCullough’s ball in from the left wing was tapped back across goal by Winchester before Adam Lecky prodded home. James Knowles added their fourth, his fifth in all competitions, on 78 minutes with a powerful strike from just outside the 18-yard box.
The Sky Blues had another opening inside the last ten minutes. Friel’s header from Kane’s right wing cross was saved by McCarey before Lecky directed the rebound over. Warrenpoint added to their tally when their first substitute, Mark Griffin, headed in Scannell’s 86th minute corner.
Warrenpoint Town: McCarey, Hughes (Griffin, 58), Wallace, Foster, Scannell, J. Lynch (Fox, 85), M. Lynch, Norton, O’Connor (Magowan, 85), O’Sullivan, Donnelly
Subs not used: Turker, Kelly, Watters
Ballymena United: McDermott, McCullough, Addis (Burns, 73), Ervin, Balmer, Kane, Winchester, Millar, Knowles, Friel, Lecky
Subs not used: McCauley, Quigley, Mayse, Nolan, Shevlin, McMurray
Referee: Steven Gregg (Ballyclare)
In-Touch Man of the Match: Jude Winchester (Ballymena)
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