Ballymena United 0 - 3 Linfield

League Cup - Group Stage
Saturday, September 15th, 2007, 3:00 PM at Ballymena Showgrounds
Referee: Mark Courtney (Dungannon)
Ballymena United  Linfield

None. Peter Thompson (10)
Glenn Ferguson (45)
Tim Mouncey (69)

Team Managers
Tommy Wright
David Jeffrey

Starting Eleven
Paul Murphy
Aaron Callaghan
Albert Watson
Craig McClean
Aidan Watson
Garth Scates
Gary Haveron
Mark Picking
Stephen Lowry
Davitt Walsh
Paul Brown
Alan Mannus
Stephen Douglas
Pat McShane
Michael Gault
Damien Curran
Glenn Ferguson
Noel Bailie
Kris Lindsay
Mark Dickson
Peter Thompson
Jamie Mulgrew

Simon Kelly
Gavin Melaugh
Lee Patrick
David Cushley
Randal Reid
William Murphy
Tim Mouncey
Paul McAreavey
Aidan O'Kane
Liam Hogan

Randal Reid for Paul Brown (40)
Simon Kelly for Craig McClean (46)
David Cushley for Mark Picking (46)
Tim Mouncey for Mark Dickson (66)
Paul McAreavey for Damien Curran (66)
Liam Hogan for Pat McShane (83)

None. None.

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Paul Murphy (GK) 47 apps -
Aaron Callaghan 44 apps1 goal
Craig McClean 66 apps -
Albert Watson 179 apps6 goals
Garth Scates 135 apps14 goals
Gary Haveron 82 apps9 goals
Stephen Lowry 17 apps -
Aidan Watson 66 apps3 goals
Mark Picking 46 apps11 goals
Davitt Walsh 4 apps5 goals
Paul Brown 39 apps6 goals
Simon Kelly (sub) 19 apps1 goal
David Cushley (sub) 8 apps -
Randal Reid (sub) 22 apps4 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Stephen Lowry (20 years 341 days)
Oldest Player:Mark Picking (31 years 279 days)
Average Player Age:24 years 39 days
Domestic Players:9 (81.82 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:David Cushley (18 years 59 days)
Oldest Player:Mark Picking (31 years 279 days)
Average Player Age:23 years 349 days
Domestic Players:14 (87.50 % of matchday squad)

HOPES of qualification to the quarter-finals of the CIS Insurance League Cup hang by a thread after defeat to Linfield at the Showgrounds.

David Jeffrey brought his already-qualified Linfield side to Warden Street for the first time since his allegations against the Ballymena United supporters, following the opening League Cup tie in August.

Aaron Callaghan returned to the starting line-up after international duty, with Simon Kelly dropping to the bench.

Despite the hype around the game, Linfield silenced the vocal Ballymena United supporters within ten minutes. Damien Curran crossed a free-kick near the corner on the right flank, and Peter Thompson found himself completely unmarked to head the Blues in front.

Within 60 seconds it was nearly two, as Ballymena's kamikazee defence allowed Noel Bailie's long free-kick to find Thompson again, who fired from close range, however the quick reactions of Murphy allowed him to get a foot to the goalbound effort.

Confidence was low and this was evident when Stephen Douglas' long throw after twenty minutes into the crowded box sailed over the outcoming Paul Murphy and was hastely cleared by Gary Haveron.

Linfield continued their relentless pressure down the flanks, as Ballymena failed to get any sort of grip on the game with the Sky Blues pegged back only a handful of snapshots so far.

Things got worse for the Braidmen as on 35 minutes Paul Brown's momentum took him crashing onto the stock car track in front of the dug-outs. The big Limavady striker couldn't continue due to a nasty shoulder injury and was replaced by Randal Reid.

Gary Haveron's free-kick came close for Ballymena, but just on the half-time whistle United's defence made another hash, gifting the Windsor Park side a second goal.

Glenn Ferguson's header was parried into the air by Paul Murphy and the loose ball evaded the custodian and into the goal, despite Peter Thompson's best efforts to claim the goal on the line.

The disgruntled Tommy Wright brought on David Cushley and Simon Kelly for the second half and the effect was immediate, as Ballymena started brightly, with Cushley looking dangerous on the left flank.

Ballymena's best chance fell to Albert Watson, whose powerful header was stopped on the line by Pat McShane from a corner.

Cushley was starting to torture Stephen Douglas on the left flank, as the 18-year-old winger used his book of tricks to get to the bye line a few times, as Ballymena sought a route back into the game.

The game was more open now, as United found their fighting spirit - as free-kicks from Stephen Lowry and Gary Haveron forced Linfield into clearing their lines.

However, all the good work was undone on 69 minutes when Simon Kelly's pathetic backpass allowed Linfield substitute Tim Mouncey in to round Murphy in the United goal and slot home from close range.

The home players' heads dropped, and Linfield continued to press with Peter Thompson and Stephen Douglas squandered good chances, as they had to finish with only three goals to their credit.

This defeat leaves Ballymena in the precarious position of elimation from the League Cup at the first stage for the third year running under Tommy Wright. An unlikely landslide victory in the final group game against Dungannon Swifts will be the only option for qualification to the quarter-finals.

Match report written by Official Ballymena United website

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