Ballymena United 2-1 Glentoran
By Paul Alexander
Ballymena United defeated Glentoran in the Danske Bank Premiership, for a second time in ten days, on Tuesday evening at the Ballymena Showgrounds to go a point behind pacesetters Linfield.
There was a noticeable lack of opportunities inside the first 20 minutes of the rearranged league meeting. On 20 minutes Sky Blue striker Johnny McMurray sent a low attempt wide of the bottom right corner.
The home side maintained attacking pressure on the Glens goal in the 22nd minute. Initially, McMurray supplied Lecky before Calum Birney took the ball away. Leroy Millar’s resulting corner-kick was put behind by Chris Gallagher, with the second Millar corner headed away by Marcus Kane. Seconds later McMurray tried another low shot which was deflected wide.
Andy McGrory found his fifth league goal on 26 minutes to put Ballymena ahead. Jude Winchester gave the ball back to Stephen McCullough, after his initial throw-in, who supplied the curled delivery.
The visitors should have pulled themselves level three minutes after from an unanticipated chance. William Garrett’s up-field ball towards Curtis Allen bounced off the advancing Thomas McDermott and fell to its intended target. However, the forward could only hit the side netting.
With just over half an hour gone, United’s McMurray had a further opportunity. Fellow striker Adam Lecky headed the ball down at the playing surface but McMurray’s effort from the bounce was cushioned by Glens’ keeper Elliott Morris.
After less than ten second-half minutes Glentoran levelled through Allen’s 105th goal for the East Belfast club. Ross Redman produced an early cross on the left wing which Allen nodded past McDermott at the back post. Marcus Kane could have made it a complete turnaround but he tapped wide of the near post after receiving the ball from Nathan Kerr.
In the 73rd minute, the Braidmen were given a penalty when Garrett fouled the hosts’ first substitute, Cathair Friel, inside the 18-yard box. Tony Kane sent the spot-kick into the bottom right corner to restore his team’s lead as Morris opted to go in the opposite direction.
Ronnie McFall’s side still looked for openings to obtain a second equaliser in the latter stages. His first replacement, Peter McMahon, pulled an attempt wide of the target. Goalscorer Allen had a snapshot gathered by McDermott as the Sky Blues held on to their advantage.
Ballymena United: McDermott, McCullough, Burns, Ervin [C], Whiteside, McGrory, Millar, Winchester (Knowles, 76), T. Kane, Lecky (Shevlin, 80), McMurray (Friel, 67)
Subs not used: McCauley, Nolan, Balmer, Reece Glendinning
Glentoran: Morris, Redman, Crowe, Birney, Garrett (Davidson, 80), M. Kane [C], Gallagher, Pepper, Kerr, McDaid (McMahon, 57), Allen
Subs not used: Nelson, Gordon, Ferrin, McCarthy, O’Neill
Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon)
In-Touch Man of the Match: Jim Ervin (Ballymena)
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