Odd BK 3 - 0 Ballymena United

UEFA Europa League - 1st Qual. Rnd - Leg 1
Thursday, June 29th, 2017, 7:00 PM at Skagerak Arena
Attendance: 2,969
Referee: Edin Jakupovic (Bosnia)
Odd BK Ballymena United

Stefan Mladenovic (1)
Martin Broberg (53)
Sigurd Haugen (90)

Team Managers
Dag-Eilev Fagermo David Jeffrey

Starting Eleven
Viljar Rosholt Myhra
Espen Ruud
Vegard Bergan
Martin Erik Broberg
Jone Samuelsen
Olivier Occean
Stefan Mladenovic
Frederik Semb Berge
Joakim Vage Nielsen
Fredrik Oldrup Jensen
Pape Pate Diouf
Ross Glendinning
Jim Ervin
Jonathan Flynn
Kyle Owens
Tony Kane
Conor McCloskey
Leroy Millar
Michael Gault
Cathair Friel
Joseph McKinney
Kevin Braniff

Sondre Rossbach
Oliver Berg
Rafik Zekhnini
Fredrik Nordkvelle
Sigurd Haugen
Steffen Hagen
Riku Riski
Tim Allen
Andrew Burns
Emmet Friars
Steven McCullough
Eoin Kane
William Faulkner
Jonathan McMurray

Rafik Zekhnini for Pape Pate Diouf (46)
Fredrik Nordkvelle for Jone Samuelsen (62)
Sigurd Haugen for Stefan Mladenovic (77)
Emmet Friars for Kyle Owens (58)
Jonathan McMurray for Cathair Friel (72)
William Faulkner for Tony Kane (80)

Pape Pate Diouf (36)
Martin Broberg (55)
Jonathan Flynn (43)
Jim Ervin (55)

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Ross Glendinning (GK) 31 apps -
Jonathan Flynn 37 apps3 goals
Kyle Owens 47 apps7 goals
Tony Kane 234 apps33 goals
Jim Ervin 128 apps2 goals
Conor McCloskey 33 apps6 goals
Leroy Millar 60 apps2 goals
Michael Gault 1 app (debut) -
Joseph McKinney 16 apps1 goal
Cathair Friel 46 apps23 goals
Kevin Braniff 11 apps3 goals
Emmet Friars (sub) 1 app (debut) -
William Faulkner (sub) 74 apps10 goals
Jonathan McMurray (sub) 43 apps17 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Leroy Millar (21 years 307 days)
Oldest Player:Kevin Braniff (34 years 126 days)
Average Player Age:27 years 171 days
Domestic Players:11 (100.00 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Eoin Kane (21 years 176 days)
Oldest Player:Kevin Braniff (34 years 126 days)
Average Player Age:26 years 221 days
Domestic Players:17 (94.44 % of matchday squad)

BALLYMENA United were left ruing goals in the first and last minutes of their UEFA Europa League game against Norwegian side Odds Ballklub on Thursday evening.

David Jeffrey’s Sky Blues returned to European competition for the first time in 13 years, as they competed in the first qualifying round, first leg tie of Europe’s secondary major competition. Despite most of the club’s summer signings making the trip to Skien, only experienced midfielder Michael Gault was afforded a competitive debut with the manager relying on the core of his squad who had
Playing into the strong evening sunshine it was a disastrous start for the travelling Braidmen as they found themselves a goal behind after just 34 seconds! The home side caught Ballymena napping as they took advantageous of some nervous defending with Stefan Mladenovic slipping the ball under Ross Glendinning.

Undeterred, the part-time visitors settled into the game slowly as they dealed with the early pressure from Odds. In the first 15 minutes, Swedish winger Martin Erik Broberg was causing problems and had a shot fired across the face of goal whilst Pape Diouf had an ambitious overhead kick cause Glendinning no problems.

United were restricted to a handful of attacks in the first half, mostly revolving around unsuccessful set pieces but stood up to the physical test of their professional opponents with Diouf booked after 36 minutes following an altercation with Leroy Millar. Johnny Flynn was also booked late in a half where Ballymena managed the game well given the circumstances, soaking up the pressure and limiting the home side’s chances.

The second half started with similar early woe as United with a double blow. Seven minutes after the restart Johnny Flynn conceded a penalty when his outstretched leg caught Canadian international Olivier Occean. Odds captain Jone Samuelsen stepped up but could only rattle the crossbar with his powerful effort, but Broberg was on hand to react quickest heading home with Glendinning scrambling across goal.

A minute after going two goals down, United’s second misfortune came when Kyle Owens fell awkwardly on the artificial surface whilst challenging for a header. Following treatment he was replaced by Emmet Friars, who was making his debut following a summer move from Ards.

The Sky Blues continued the try and force a way into the game and their first real chance came on 67 minutes when Conor McCloskey whipped a great ball over to Cathair Friel who headed over. It was the last real action for last season’s top goalscorer as he was replaced for Johnny McMurray shortly after.

McMurray made an immediate impact with a burst of energy that caught Odds on the back foot, particularly with 15 minutes left when quick thinking from Kevin Braniff released the substitute through unmarked but could only drill a low shot into the side netting at the goalkeeper’s near post. Buoyed by the direct nature of the Sky Blues’ approach, there was genuine hope of an away goal in the final stages.

That only made the final play of the game even more heartbreaking for Ballymena United as home substitute Sigurd Haugen cut inside on the edge of the box and his low drive deceived Glendinning who could only watch as he was agonisingly beaten at his near post for the Norwegian’s third of the game and potentially ended United’s lingering hopes of having something left to play for in Belfast next Thursday.

Upon the final whistle, the Ballymena United supporters lauded the efforts of their demoralised team as the effort and commitment could not be faulted.

Match report written by Neil Coleman

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