Ballymena United 4 - 1 Linfield

League Cup - Round 3
Wednesday, October 12th, 2016, 7:45 PM at Ballymena Showgrounds
Referee: Raymond Crangle
Ballymena United  Linfield

Goalscorers
Jonathan McMurray (23)
Cathair Friel (42)
Jonathan McMurray (60)
William Faulkner (73)
Jimmy Callacher (20)

Team Managers
David Jeffrey
David Healy

Starting Eleven
Ben McCauley
Caolan Loughran
Jim Ervin
Kyle Owens
Stephen McBride
Tony Kane
Allan Jenkins
Gary Thompson
William Faulkner
Cathair Friel
Jonathan McMurray
Roy Carroll
Christopher Casement
Ross Gaynor
Jimmy Callacher
Matthew Clarke
Mark Stafford
Jamie Mulgrew
Sammy Clingan
Aaron Burns
Kirk Millar
Kris Bright

Substitutes
Jonathan Flynn
Conor McCloskey
Eoin Kane
Leroy Millar
Matthew Shevlin
Mark Haughey
Ross Clarke
Niall Quinn
Joshua Carson
Sean Ward

Substitutions
Jonathan Flynn for Kyle Owens (83)
Conor McCloskey for Gary Thompson (84)
Leroy Millar for Stephen McBride (90)
Mark Haughey for Mark Stafford (46)
Ross Clarke for Kris Bright (61)
Niall Quinn for Kirk Millar (72)

Bookings
Jonathan McMurray (43)
Mark Stafford (34)
Ross Gaynor (41)
Matthew Clarke (50)

Red Cards
None. Ross Gaynor (55)
Appearances & Goals To Date
Ben McCauley (GK) 1 app (debut) -
Stephen McBride 84 apps1 goal
Kyle Owens 13 apps3 goals
Tony Kane 201 apps19 goals
Caolan Loughran 12 apps1 goal
Jim Ervin 91 apps2 goals
William Faulkner 42 apps8 goals
Allan Jenkins 217 apps47 goals
Gary Thompson 163 apps18 goals
Cathair Friel 13 apps10 goals
Jonathan McMurray 12 apps6 goals
Jonathan Flynn (sub) 20 apps1 goal
Conor McCloskey (sub) 11 apps2 goals
Leroy Millar (sub) 29 apps1 goal

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Ben McCauley (18 years 168 days)
Oldest Player:Allan Jenkins (35 years 14 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 207 days
Domestic Players:10 (90.91 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Matthew Shevlin (17 years 314 days)
Oldest Player:Allan Jenkins (35 years 14 days)
Average Player Age:25 years 83 days
Domestic Players:15 (93.75 % of matchday squad)

BALLYMENA United cruised to a comfortable 4-1 win over Linfield to move into the quarter finals of the Northern Ireland League Cup.

Ballymena took the game to Linfield straight away, with two good chances in the opening five minutes courtesy of Cathair Friel and Johnny McMurray. A neat run from Friel took him into the box but his shot was stopped by Roy Carroll. Minutes later McMurray also saw an effort saved by the Northern Ireland international. On 19 minutes Linfield took a surprise lead after an error by young debutant keeper, Ben McCauley. Jim Ervin failed to deal with a corner, the ball looped into the air and after McCauley dropped it, Jimmy Callacher tapped home.

Just 4 minutes later United hit back through McMurray. The forward picked the ball up on the right and unleashed a shot past Carroll, from just inside the box, to grab his sixth goal of the season.

On 30 minutes, McCauley redeemed himself for his earlier error as he made a great save for a corner from a Ross Gaynor effort. 4 minutes from the break United took the lead, courtesy of Friel. The striker carried on after a challenge by Gaynor and sent a long range effort into the top corner as Ballymena took a deserved lead into half time.

Ballymena came out quickly in the second half with Gary Thompson firing just over and then McMurray having a beautifully curled effort stopped low by Carroll. One of the matches most important moments came on 57 minutes when Linfield went down to 10 men after Gaynor was given a second booking for simulation. It changed the game again as three minutes later McMurray grabbed his second with the goal of the night. McMurray showed great pace to beat the Linfield defence and wonderfully lobbed Carroll from outside the box, as the keeper helplessly watched the ball hit the back of the net.

Not long after McMurray could've scored his third but his close range attempt was thwarted by Carroll, and Gary Thompson couldn't connect with the rebound. Ballymena killed off any chance Linfield had of getting back in the game on 73 minutes when a hopeful cross from Ervin was met by Faulkner, who unmarked at the back post, took a touch before dispatching a neat finish home for 4-1.

Linfield should've got their second shortly after but McCauley again saved well, before Thompson made an incredible goal saving tackle inside the six yards to deny Linfield. Ballymena had chances late on for a fifth with Tony Kane and Jim Ervin went close as Linfield looked like a team hoping for the final whistle. Ballymena made late changes, including subbing off Stephen McBride in his first game of the season after a long injury layoff. United looked extremely impressive all game and are safely into the hat for the quarter final draw.

After the game manager David Jeffrey said "I thought we played well tonight, I'm delighted with young Ben McCauley who I thought epitomised all that was good about us, ok he made a mistake for the first goal but there's many a young man who would've crumbled and he stood up. I told him tonight that he had ten big brothers around him and my goodness gracious me did the other players look after him and when they weren't there he stood up for himself and he stood up for them. We certainly played well tonight, we worked hard, and I'm very pleased with the result.

Jonathan scored two excellent goals and Cathair scored a superb goal also, but it's not just their goalscoring, they worked so very hard for the team. Then Willie Faulkner, I thought the last goal really showed where the players are at, Jim Ervin who I thought was superb chased the ball when other people would've thought it was going out and put the best ball he could into the box and Willie Faulkner out of what was just a hopeful cross into the box done tremendously well. It is wrong to pick out any individual because that was a true team and collective performance and they did tremendously well.

To be fair to Roy Carroll I don't think he could be faulted for any of the goals, such was the quality, and that says a lot about Cathair and Jonathan and young William. Since the defeat on the opening day at Crusaders they've learnt, they've worked tremendously hard and come Saturday we'll see how far they've gone because there's absolutely no point playing to the levels that they've played this evening and then come Saturday the league, which is our priority then not producing the goods. Certainly we'll enjoy tonight, we're delighted, I'm so pleased for the players that they're through to the next round and then we'll prepare for Saturday."

Match report written by Phillip McPeake



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