Ballymena United 2 - 0 Carrick Rangers

League Cup - Final
Saturday, February 18th, 2017, 5:30 PM at Seaview
Referee: Ian McNabb
Ballymena United  Carrick Rangers

Allan Jenkins (45)
Conor McCloskey (90)

Team Managers
David Jeffrey
Aaron Callaghan

Starting Eleven
Ross Glendinning
Caolan Loughran
Jim Ervin
Kyle Owens
Tony Kane
Allan Jenkins
Francis McCaffrey
Leroy Millar
William Faulkner
Cathair Friel
Jonathan McMurray
Brian Neeson
Lee Chapman
Mark Surgenor
Patrick McNally
Steven McCullough
Daniel Kelly
Mark Clarke
Thomas Murray
Eamon McAllister
Sean Noble
Martin Murray

Tim Allen
Adam McCracken
Conor McCloskey
Gary Thompson
Darren Henderson
Yvan Imbert
Adam Salley
Nathan McConnell
Chris Morrow
Glenn Taggart

Conor McCloskey for Francis McCaffrey (81)
Gary Thompson for Tony Kane (90)
Darren Henderson for Jonathan McMurray (90)
Adam Salley for Mark Clarke (61)
Nathan McConnell for Eamon McAllister (80)
Chris Morrow for Martin Murray (84)

William Faulkner (47)
Francis McCaffrey (69)
Patrick McNally (68)
Lee Chapman (75)
Steven McCullough (78)

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Ross Glendinning (GK) 23 apps -
Kyle Owens 35 apps5 goals
Tony Kane 225 apps30 goals
Jim Ervin 115 apps2 goals
Caolan Loughran 26 apps2 goals
Leroy Millar 47 apps2 goals
Allan Jenkins 241 apps49 goals
William Faulkner 66 apps10 goals
Francis McCaffrey 13 apps5 goals
Cathair Friel 36 apps19 goals
Jonathan McMurray 30 apps11 goals
Gary Thompson (sub) 166 apps18 goals
Conor McCloskey (sub) 21 apps3 goals
Darren Henderson (sub) 103 apps26 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Leroy Millar (21 years 176 days)
Oldest Player:Allan Jenkins (35 years 143 days)
Average Player Age:25 years 357 days
Domestic Players:10 (90.91 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Adam McCracken (18 years 94 days)
Oldest Player:Allan Jenkins (35 years 143 days)
Average Player Age:25 years 270 days
Domestic Players:14 (87.50 % of matchday squad)

BALLYMENA United were crowned Northern Ireland League Cup Champions for the first time with a 2-0 win over Carrick Rangers at Seaview. A sell out sea of sky blue and amber packed into Seaview for the final which got off to an expected nervy start as both sides looked to settle.

The first chance of the game fell to Fra McCaffrey but his shot went well wide. As Ballymena began to take control of the play, Johnny McMurray shot well over with an effort on the turn, before Allan Jenkins sent a header from a Leroy Millar cross narrowly over the bar. Carrick's first chance fell at the feet of T.J Murray, but he couldn't keep his shot down inside the box.

After 20 minutes, Carrick stopper Brian Neeson made a great save, tipping a half volley from McMurray over the bar. McMurray was United's most likely source of goals in the first half and went close again when after a spot of pinball in the box, the striker curled an effort just wide.

Carrick's other Murray, Martin, called Ross Glendinning into his first piece of action on the half hour mark, firing a shot from 20 yards that Glendinning had to get across to well. The Sky Blues went close again when a corner from Millar was met by Cathair Friel, but under pressure from two Carrick defenders he headed over.

With one minute left in the first half, Ballymena took the lead through Jenkins. Willie Faulkner got to the by-line with a mazy run and cut the ball back into the box, where Jenkins was waiting to slot the ball into the bottom corner and put United 45 minutes from glory.

Carrick started the second half the better of the two sides and received a free kick 30 yards out, with Faulkner picking up a booking for his foul. Steven McCullough tried his luck but couldn't keep his shot below the bar. Straight down the other end Friel played in McMurray, whose first effort was straight at Neeson before his second hit the side netting. With a nervous 15 minutes left for both sets of supporters, Tony Kane went close to wrapping up the final with another free kick special, but this time Neeson tipped his free kick onto the bar and over.

Carrick needed just one chance to grab an equaliser and that chance came to substitute Adam Salley with 10 minutes left. A free kick was knocked down into the path of an unmarked Salley, but he somehow put the ball over. Another free kick late on caused Ballymena problems when another substitute, Nathan McConnell headed towards goal, but Glendinning got down well to save.

With 4 minutes added on, as Carrick continued to push for late drama, Sky Blue substitute Conor McCloskey found space on the right and unleashed an unstoppable 20 yard effort into the top corner to put Ballymena 2-0 up and secure the cup.

The final whistle was met with a rapturous reception at the Ballymena ends of the stadium as captain Jim Ervin lifted Ballymena's first League Cup trophy, and first silverware under David Jeffrey, in a day to remember.

Match report written by Phillip McPeake

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