United Reclaim Top Spot From Linfield

Ballymena United 2-1 Linfield

By Paul Alexander

Ballymena United returned to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership after defeating infield 2-1 at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.

The home side could have went in front inside the first 120 seconds but Adam Lecky’s attempt from about six yards flew over the crossbar. Although it was their Belfast visitors who took the lead. Andrew Waterworth squirmed the ball in at the front post after Chris Casement’s throw- in in the fourth minute.

Jude Winchester thought he’d levelled the scoreline four minutes after when he deceived Roy Carroll at his near post, however the referee’s assistant signalled that the midfielder was offside. On 13 minutes Carroll punched James Knowles’ corner-kick away from the goal line, before collecting Jonny Addis’ header which followed the clearance.

Linfield also had a goal disallowed for offside within the opening quarter of an hour. Kirk Millar tapped in the rebound from Thomas McDermott’s instinctive block which had initially stopped Waterworth from netting. At the opposite end of the pitch, Carroll remained alert as he pushed Leroy Millar’s spontaneous strike around the left post minutes later.

United continued looking for an equaliser as the first-half progressed. With nearly 31 minutes played Winchester tried a shot which soared over the bar. Shortly after, Carroll gathered Stephen McCullough’s free-kick which was aimed towards the bottom right corner of the Linfield goal.

The Braidmen would equalise after seven second-half minutes. Both Cathair Friel and Jonny Addis attacked McCullough’s right wing free-kick which seemed to be directed into the net by the former of the two players.

Leroy Millar pulled his side ahead after almost 60 minutes with his fifth goal in all competitions for the Sky Blues this season. The 23-year-old midfielder came inside on the right and finished into the bottom right corner.

Ballymena could have added to their one-goal lead during the remainder of the encounter. On 69 minutes Friel broke through on goal but his low effort was blocked by Carroll’s knees. The Blues’ goalkeeper made another save to ensure it remained 2-1 when he denied Tony Kane’s close-range strike.

Ballymena United: McDermott, McCullough, Addis, Ervin, Balmer, Reece Glendinning (Kane, 21), L. Millar, Winchester (Nolan, 93), Knowles, Friel, Lecky Subs not used: McCauley, Quigley, Burns, Shevlin, McMurray

Linfield: Carroll, Quinn, Callacher, Robinson, Casement, Mulgrew, Cooper (Stewart, 77), Fallon, Garrett (O’Connor, 68), K. Millar (Forde, 81), Waterworth

Subs not used: Deane, Stafford, Clarke, Mitchell

Referee: Ian McNabb

In-Touch Man of the Match: Leroy Millar (Ballymena)

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