Ballymena United 2 - 3 Cliftonville

League Cup - Final
Saturday, January 24th, 2015, 5:30 PM at Windsor Park
Referee: Raymond Crangle
Ballymena United  Cliftonville

David Cushley (52)
David Cushley (58)
Joe Gormley (1)
Joe Gormley (37)
Martin Donnelly (80)

Team Managers
Glenn Ferguson
Tommy Breslin

Starting Eleven
Dwayne Nelson
David Munster
Jim Ervin
Jonathan Taylor
Stephen McBride
Tony Kane
Allan Jenkins
Brian McCaul
Gary Thompson
Darren Henderson
Matthew Tipton
Peter Cherrie
Marc Smyth
Jaimie McGovern
Eamonn Seydak
Ryan Catney
George McMullan
Martin Donnelly
Jude Winchester
Tomas Cosgrove
Joe Gormley
Jay Donnelly

Stuart Addis
Mark Surgenor
Alan Teggart
Neal Gawley
David Cushley
David McDaid
Martin Murray
Ronan Scannell
Robert Bayly
Sean McCarron

David Cushley for David Munster (46)
Alan Teggart for Brian McCaul (88)
Mark Surgenor for Gary Thompson (90)
David McDaid for Tomas Cosgrove (58)
Martin Murray for Joe Gormley (71)
Ronan Scannell for Eamonn Seydak (76)

None. Marc Smyth (5)
Jude Winchester (23)
George McMullan (83)

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Dwayne Nelson (GK) 202 apps -
Jonathan Taylor 96 apps11 goals
Tony Kane 138 apps8 goals
Stephen McBride 47 apps -
Jim Ervin 20 apps1 goal
David Munster 121 apps8 goals
Allan Jenkins 147 apps29 goals
Gary Thompson 100 apps13 goals
Brian McCaul 14 apps -
Matthew Tipton 35 apps16 goals
Darren Henderson 49 apps17 goals
Mark Surgenor (sub) 180 apps19 goals
Alan Teggart (sub) 151 apps28 goals
David Cushley (sub) 186 apps46 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Brian McCaul (24 years 177 days)
Oldest Player:David Munster (35 years 343 days)
Average Player Age:29 years 297 days
Domestic Players:9 (81.82 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Brian McCaul (24 years 177 days)
Oldest Player:David Munster (35 years 343 days)
Average Player Age:29 years 258 days
Domestic Players:14 (87.50 % of matchday squad)

BALLYMENA United finished runners up in the 2015 WASP Solutions League Cup final by virtue of a 3-2 defeat to Cliftonville at Windsor Park on Saturday.

United made the worst possible start to proceedings as both centre backs challenged for the same ball, a long punt up field by Cliftonville goalkeeper Peter Cherrie which eventually found its way to Joe Gormley in acres of space to round Dwayne Nelson and slot the ball home in front of the jubilant Reds support in the Kop.

Darren Boyce was then felled on the edge of the penalty area but Tony Kane's powerfully hit free kick struck the wall, a good chance gone begging. Cliftonville began to turn up the heat and almost made it two when Tomas Cosgrove's cross from the right found Joe Gormley in space, but his acrobatic overhead kick effort flew just wide of the post. Jaimie McGovern was next to threaten for the Reds but headed over from a corner before United finally fashioned another chance on 31 minutes when Matthew Tipton headed wide when well placed in the box.

Cliftonville doubled their advantage on 37 minutes when United yet again failed to clear a ball into the box, allowing Eamonn Seydak to pick out Joe Gormley for his second of the afternoon from close range and put his side in a very strong position heading into the break.

It was evident that Glenn Ferguson would need to change something tactically if Ballymena were to get back into the game and did so by withdrawing David Munster in favour of fit again David Cushley. This change invigorated United who began to exert a spell of pressure on the Cliftonville goal.

Marty Donnelly came to the Reds' rescue on 49 minutes when he headed Tony Kane's in-swinging corner off the line. The game then turned on its head on 51 minutes when firstly Cliftonville blew a glorious chance as Jay Donnelly elected to square the ball to Joe Gormley instead of shooting when clean through on goal but Dwayne Nelson covered his angles well and collected the ball before launching a quick counter attack. This attack resulted in a corner for United, which allowed Tony Kane to pick out David Cushley at the back post, who scrambled the ball home to give the Sky Blues a fighting chance.

This gave United a real lift and they duly levelled the scores on 58 minutes, Gary Thompson chased down a seemingly lost cause in the box which caused Reds defender Jaimie McGovern to panic and clear the ball straight into the path of Cushley who rifled the ball past Peter Cherrie with his so called weaker foot, sparking wild scenes of jubilation amongst the sizeable travelling support in the North Stand.

Ballymena were on the front foot and had strong appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Raymond Crangle when Cliftonville defender Eamonn Seydak appeared to handle the ball in the box.

Eventually the Reds steadied and began to expose some alarming gaps in the United defence. In one such move Joe Gormley found Jay Donnelly in acres of space on the edge of the box but the young striker somehow missed the target in a real let off for the Sky Blues. Unfortunately, United didn't learn from this attack and continued to present opportunities for the Reds to get in behind the defence. Eventually this proved costly as Martin Donnelly took advantage of a poor defensive header from Tony Kane to curl the ball beyond Dwayne Nelson and ultimately win the cup for Cliftonville.

This goal sucked all the life left out of United, as the Reds blew a great chance to make it four in injury time after more calamitous defending, Davy McDaid found himself in space in the box only to be denied with a smart stop from Dwayne Nelson. In the end it was more cup final heartache for Ballymena who, despite showing character to force their way back into the game, will rue alarming lapses at the back as the key reason why another trophy opportunity slipped away.

Match report written by Jordan Miller

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