Harland and Wolff Welders 2 - 3 Ballymena United

Irish Cup - Quarter final
Saturday, February 28th, 2015, 1:30 PM at Tillysburn Park
Referee: Ian McNabb
Harland and Wolff Welders Ballymena United

Goalscorers
Michael McLellan (pen.) (35)
Michael McLellan (51)
Darren Henderson (79)
Matthew Tipton (85)
Gary Thompson (90)

Team Managers
Gary Smyth Glenn Ferguson

Starting Eleven
Michael Dougherty
Gary Spence
Gareth Beattie
William Armstrong
Craig Harris
Mark Magennis
Ryan Deans
Scott Davidson
Paul Dickson
Michael McLellan
Christopher Middleton
Tim Allen
Craig Gardiner
Jim Ervin
Jonathan Taylor
Patrick McNally
Tony Kane
Allan Jenkins
Gary Thompson
Neal Gawley
David Cushley
Matthew Tipton

Bench
Samuel Devine
Jay Shields
Mark Armstrong
Tony Galbraith
Dwayne Nelson
David Munster
Alan Teggart
Darren Henderson
Gary McCutcheon

Substitutions
Samuel Devine for Craig Harris (56) Darren Henderson for Craig Gardiner (53)
Gary McCutcheon for Neal Gawley (63)
David Munster for Jonathan Taylor (70)

Bookings
None. Patrick McNally (62)

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Tim Allen (GK) 5 apps -
Craig Gardiner 1 app (debut) -
Tony Kane 144 apps9 goals
Patrick McNally 5 apps -
Jim Ervin 26 apps1 goal
Jonathan Taylor 102 apps11 goals
Gary Thompson 105 apps14 goals
Neal Gawley 42 apps3 goals
Allan Jenkins 153 apps30 goals
Matthew Tipton 39 apps17 goals
David Cushley 192 apps49 goals
David Munster (sub) 123 apps8 goals
Darren Henderson (sub) 54 apps18 goals
Gary McCutcheon (sub) 98 apps52 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Craig Gardiner (18 years 214 days)
Oldest Player:Matthew Tipton (34 years 252 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 250 days
Domestic Players:8 (72.73 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Craig Gardiner (18 years 214 days)
Oldest Player:Gary McCutcheon (36 years 152 days)
Average Player Age:28 years 134 days
Domestic Players:12 (75.00 % of matchday squad)

BALLYMENA United progressed to the Semi Finals of the Irish Cup courtesy of a dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over Harland and Wolff Welders.

Allan Jenkins could have given the Sky Blues the lead within the first minute but shot straight at Welders goalkeeper Michael Dougherty when through on goal. Jenkins had another good opportunity go amiss on 9 minutes as this time home defender Gareth Beattie blocked his goal bound effort in the box. The Welders soaked up this early pressure and began to exert themselves on the game as the first half wore on, with ex-United striker Michael McClellan forcing a fine save out of goalkeeper Tim Allen.

Ballymena responded with another effort from Allan Jenkins, but the United skipper scuffed his effort after being played in by Matthew Tipton. The Sky Blues' profligacy in front of goal appeared to give the Welders belief and so it proved on 35 minutes when they opened the scoring from the penalty spot. Debutant defender Craig Gardiner was adjudged to have fouled Chris Middleton in the box, allowing Michael McLellan to step up and dispatch the ball beyond the outstretched Tim Allen.

The Welders thought they had doubled their advantage early in the second half but the referee ruled that McLellan had fouled Allen when challenging for the ball, causing the United goalkeeper to release it from his grasp in the process. The home side's tails were up as they sensed they could score a second goal. This proved true just minutes later when McLellan did manage to complete his brace after a fine counter attacking move which saw the striker beat Gary Thompson before unleashing a controlled curling finish into the bottom corner, after excellent link up play from Mark Magennis.

United were rocking at this point and struggled to create any meaningful chances as the second half wore on. The introduction of strike duo Gary McCutcheon and Darren Boyce at last gave Ballymena some attacking impetus, with Boyce screwing an effort wide of goal just moments after coming on. On 77 minutes the Sky Blues were awarded a penalty after Gary Thompson was fouled in the box but Matthew Tipton's effort was saved by Michael Dougherty. At this point most seemed convinced that it just wasn't going to be United's day but the players were determined to fight on.

Two minutes later Ballymena finally had a lifeline when Tony Kane's cross found David Cushley who teed up Darren Boyce to nod the ball home from inside the six yard box. This goal finally sparked the side into life as a relentless spell of pressure was exerted on the Welders backline. This paid dividends on 85 minutes when Gary McCutcheon's corner was volleyed into the net by Matthew Tipton, who atoned for his earlier penalty miss to get United back on level terms.

At this point it was sensed that there was only going to be one winner and so it proved when Gary Thompson stabbed the ball over the line with virtually the last kick of the ball after an almighty goalmouth scramble. The relief was as palpable as the jubilation amongst the Sky Blue players and supporters at the final whistle with joyous celebratory scenes all over the pitch and perimeter.

United's reward for this win is a huge Semi Final clash with Portadown on Saturday 21st March, with the venue yet to be officially confirmed.

Speaking after the game, manager Glenn Ferguson said "I thought we started the game quite and had two or three chances, but then the Welders got a penalty and it's difficult to come here and the Welders got something to hold on to...they'll feel very unlucky not to be in the hat but we kept going right to the end and we took the game to them until the very last minute, and credit to our boys, we didn't play particularly well but we had the firepower on the pitch at the end of the game to see us through.

We brought McCutcheon and Boyce on and we just went for it, we got the ball into good areas for the last fifteen minutes...and to be fair I think the Welders were probably out on their feet at that stage...they got deeper and deeper and the more we went forward the more we looked like scoring...when you play cup games the best time to score is right at the last minute, we done it here last year in the cup so it was a bit of deja vu...thankfully Gary was able to get the winner for us with the last kick."

Match report written by Jordan Miller

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