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United draw with Swifts in Premiership

Ballymena United 2-2 Dungannon Swifts

By Paul Alexander

Ballymena United couldn’t overpower a hard-working Dungannon Swifts side at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon with both sides receiving a point in the Danske Bank Premiership.

The away side looked to threaten from a corner-kick with 10 minutes played. David Armstrong got underneath Mark Patton’s delivery before United goalkeeper Ross Glendinning took the high ball out of the air.

On 13 minutes Jude Winchester tried to put the Sky Blues in front. James Knowles’ corner was sent back towards the left wing with the ball returning to the midfielder. Knowles would play it to his right to Winchester whose strike was cushioned by Alex Moore.

Within the same minute Paul McElroy and Daniels Hughes broke away in the other half of the pitch. McElroy powered up the left wing and almost supplied Hughes at the far side of the penalty area, however wing-back Stephen McCullough had got back to intercept.

Johnny McMurray went close for Ballymena when his effort across goal came off the outside of the left post. Mark Patton and Chris Hegarty then combined for, arguably, the Swifts’s most promising chance of the half. Hegarty made a low connection with Patton’s free-kick to force top reactions from Glendinning.

The home side took the lead through Winchester with four of the opening 45 minutes to go. Knowles teed up his fellow midfielder who netted his fifth goal in all competitions.

Substitute Grant Hutchinson did put the ball in the net for Dungannon as the hour mark approached, but the goal was not given because of a foul in the build-up. Although the scoreline was levelled by Hughes in the 63rd minute. The striker capitalised on a defensive mistake and found the space to squeeze the ball between Glendinning and the near post.

Referee Tim Marshall issued Dungannon’s Douglas Wilson with a red card on 70 minutes for an untimed challenge on Ballymena captain Jim Ervin. The Braidmen nearly regained the lead shortly after when centre-back Jonny Addis’ attempt crept just wide.

Cathair Friel restored United’s advantage with 15 minutes of the encounter remaining. Adam Lecky’s header was poked back across the 18-yard box by Winchester before Friel recorded his tenth league goal of the season.  

The hosts’ County Tyrone visitors ensured that they would return to Stangmore Park with a point two minutes later. Kris Lindsay’s second substitute Oisin Smyth hit the net after McElroy’s initial strike was stopped.

Ballymena United: Glendinning, McCullough, Addis, Ervin, Whiteside (S. McGinty, 88), Kane, Knowles (Millar, 67), Lecky, Winchester, Friel, McMurray (Harpur, 57)

Subs not used: Williamson, Mayse, Faulkner, Balmer

Dungannon Swifts: Moore, O’Rourke, Hegarty, Armstrong, Teggart, Wilson, Clucas (Hutchinson, 55), Patton, McElroy, Burke (Smyth, 71), Hughes (Lafferty, 78)

Subs not used: Moran, Dykes, C. McGinty, Campbell

Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown)

In-Touch Man of the Match: Paul McElroy (Dungannon)

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