Ballymena United 3-0 Ballyclare Comrades
By Paul Alexander
Ballymena United entered into the last four of the Toals County Antrim Shield after a comfortable 3-0 win over Ballyclare Comrades on Tuesday evening at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
Ryan Mayse, Leroy Millar and Cathair Friel all scored in the opening 45 minutes to ensure victory against the Bluefin Sport Championship side in the Quarter-Final stage of the competition.
In the second minute visiting goalkeeper Patrick Flood had to produce a save to stop Andy McGrory’s free-kick from the left ending up in the top-left corner. The Braidmen took the lead in the tie in the same minute when Mayse received the ball from Millar before sliding it across into the bottom-left corner.
Millar would create a two-goal cushion after he was fouled in the Ballyclare penalty area by centre-midfielder Jason Johnston. The 23-year old midfielder then placed the spot-kick into the right side of the net.
The away side did put the ball in the net inside the opening 45 minutes when Thomas Robinson broke through but the referee’s assistant had promptly raised his flag. With 26 minutes played United debutant Basit Umar skipped between the Ballyclare backline although his effort rolled wide of the bottom-left corner.
Jamie Willigham showed some promise for the Comrades with a spontaneous strike which was punched away from danger by Sky Blue ‘keeper Ross Glendinning. Willie Faulkner’s 36th minute shot from just over 18 yards clipped the crossbar which allowed for it to be collected by Flood.
Substitute Cathair Friel added, what would be, the third and final goal of the night after 47 minutes. The forward curled his effort from the left inside the right post, despite Flood getting a faint touch on the shot.
The second-half of the shield fixture didn’t impact upon the scoreline and provided very few opportunities for both teams. Three minutes in Ballymena thought that they had been given another penalty when Comrades captain Dean Youle caught Friel and was subsequently booked. However referee Evan Boyce deemed that the foul was made outside the 18-yard box and awarded a free-kick which was taken by Reece Glendinning.
On 56 minutes Ballyclare’s Samuel McIlveen tested Ross Glendinning with an attempt which was routinely gathered. With half an hour of the game remaining, United’s Friel surged forward towards goal and tried to flick the ball past Flood which, instead, went wide of the goal.
Ballymena United: Ross Glendinning, McCullough, Addis [C], Balmer, Whiteside, Reece Glendinning (Kane, 83), Faulkner, Millar, McGrory, Mayse (Friel, 17), Umar (Nolan, 57)
Subs not used: Ervin, Lecky
Ballyclare Comrades: Flood, Crane, Youle [C], Wright, Kirk (McQuitty, 51), Robinson (Tully, 61), Johnston, McIlveen, Gault, Willigham, Donnelly (Dobbin, 67)
Subs not used: Trussell, Brown
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan)
In-Touch Man of the Match: Johnny Addis (Ballymena)
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