Ballymena United 2 - 0 Crumlin Star

Irish Cup - Round 5
Saturday, January 4th, 2020, 3:00 PM at Ballymena Showgrounds
Referee: Mark Dillon
Ballymena United  Crumlin Star

Declan Carville (66)
Cathair Friel (90)

Team Managers
David Jeffrey
Paul Trainor

Starting Eleven
Jordan Williamson
Jim Ervin
Jonathan Addis
Joshua Kelly
Reece Glendinning
Steven McCullough
Tony Kane
Andrew McGrory
Leroy Millar
Ross Lavery
Cathair Friel
Paul Fisher
Mark Lyons
Aidan McNeill
Niall Hawkins
Tiernan McAuley
Joseph McNeill
Breandan O'Neill
Kevin Trainor
Niall Murray
Samuel McBurney
Barry McKervey

Scot Whiteside
Declan Carville
James Knowles
Jude Winchester
Ryan Mayse
Shane McGinty
Kenneth Kane
Michael Magill
Patrick McIlkenny
Thomas Lambe
Stephen Smyth
Fionntan Marley
Barry Flood
Lee Forbes

Declan Carville for Joshua Kelly (46)
Patrick McIlkenny for Breandan O'Neill (75)
Stephen Smyth for Samuel McBurney (75)
Thomas Lambe for Mark Lyons (84)

Reece Glendinning (83)

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Jordan Williamson (GK) 14 apps -
Jim Ervin 250 apps3 goals
Steven McCullough 117 apps5 goals
Reece Glendinning 16 apps2 goals
Tony Kane 332 apps47 goals
Joshua Kelly 21 apps1 goal
Jonathan Addis 69 apps5 goals
Andrew McGrory 66 apps19 goals
Leroy Millar 157 apps22 goals
Ross Lavery 21 apps3 goals
Cathair Friel 149 apps68 goals
Declan Carville (sub) 25 apps2 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Joshua Kelly (20 years 307 days)
Oldest Player:Jim Ervin (34 years 221 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 206 days
Domestic Players:11 (100.00 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Kenneth Kane (20 years 149 days)
Oldest Player:Jim Ervin (34 years 221 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 53 days
Domestic Players:17 (94.44 % of matchday squad)

Ballymena United made hard work of making it into the sixth round of the Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup, eventually coming through 2-0 at home to Crumlin Star.

United made just two changes from the New Years Day game with Larne, with Tony Kane and Jonathan Addis replacing Declan Carville and Andrew Burns, while the ever present Jim Ervin made his 250th appearance for the club.

It was a fairly routine start to the game, with Ballymena expectantly on top in terms of possession and chances. Amongst those early chances Leroy Millar teed up Cathair Friel who saw a well hit half volley from all of 35 yards fly just over, before Ervin then picked out Friel inside the box but his effort was fantastically saved by Star 'keeper Paul Fisher.

Kane then went close on a couple of occasions in quick succession for The Sky Blues. First, a free kick from 30 yards and dead centre of the goal was straight at Fisher, but he fumbled the ball before gathering at the second attempt. Kane would come closer minutes later when he hit the woodwork from the edge of the box.

Despite creating nothing to worry Jordan Williamson in the Ballymena goal, Crumlin Star were holding their own and captain Barry McKervey almost caught everyone out by going for goal with a free kick from wide right, with the ball floating just over the crossbar.

On the half hour mark Steven McCullough delivered an inch perfect cross into the Star box to pick out Friel, but he could only head over. For the final 15 minutes of the half Ballymena's dominant control seemed to waive as Crumlin saw a good deal of the ball, again without causing much concern. Towards the end of the half Andrew McGrory had the ball in the net for the Braidmen, but it was disallowed as the midfielder had strayed offside beforehand, as the sides went in goalless at the break.

United changed things up at the break with Josh Kelly, who felt a tight hamstring, making way for Carville who came on and played as United's central striker.

Crumlin Star had finished the first half well and the Northern Amateur Football League Premier Division side started the second half on the front foot, taking the game to the hosts and creating a nervy atmosphere in the home stand. Ballymena were thankful for an intervention from McGrory who blocked an effort from McKervey, in what was the only chance for either side before the hour mark. The visitors went close again when a one-two between Niall Murray and McKervey ended with the latter seeing a shot deflect off Ervin and dip narrowly over.

On 66 minutes the tense feeling inside The Showgrounds was finally lifted when The Sky Blues broke the deadlock through Carville. Ross Lavery's corner was met by the sub who rose highest to head home off the underside of the bar.

A couple of minutes later it really should've been 2-0. Another Lavery corner was met at the back post by Millar who headed the ball across goal for Friel, but from little more than two yards out he somehow headed over. The Braidmen failed to add a second goal in their most dominant passage of the half, and it made for a difficult final ten minutes as Ballymena were forced to withstand a great deal of Star pressure.

United managed to see out a string of corners from the away side before Jonny Addis had to intervene to block a shot from sub Stephen Smyth after he'd charged through the middle.

Two minutes into added time United breathed a huge sigh of relief as Friel secured passage to round six. The goal was all about Carville, who made a great impact in the second half. McGrory played Carville in and he toyed with a Crumlin Star defender and 'keeper Fisher before teeing up Friel who easily finished to wrap up the win.

Ballymena made to work hard for the win by a well-drilled and resolute Crumlin Star, but the most important thing was the win to set up a sixth round tie away to Warrenpoint.

Match report written by Philip McPeake

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