0 - 2
League (NIFL Premiership)
William Faulkner (33)
Tony Kane (pen.) (53)
Ross Glendinning .1
Steven McCullough .11
Andrew Burns .14
Jonathan Addis .4
Tony Kane .2
Scot Whiteside .5
Jude Winchester .20
William Faulkner .12
Ryan Mayse .6
Andrew McGrory .17
Jonathan McMurray .27
Thomas McDermott .18
Jim Ervin .21
James Knowles .10
Leroy Millar .23
Shane McGinty .7
Adam Lecky .22
Francis Nolan .15
Alan Teggart for Grant Hutchinson (36)
Caolin Coyle for Douglas Wilson (64)
Marcio Soares for Cormac Burke (71)
James Knowles for Jude Winchester (70)
Adam Lecky for Jonathan McMurray (70)
Shane McGinty for Ryan Mayse (76)
|Alan Teggart (85)||
Jonathan McMurray (23)
|Chris Hegarty (67)||None.|
Jamie Robinson (Referee)
BALLYMENA United kicked off the new Danske Bank Premiership season with a 2-0 win over Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park.
After a busy summer of ins and outs United lined up with a new look side, with competitive debuts handed to Jonathan Addis, Scot Whiteside, Ryan Mayse, Andrew McGrory and Jude Winchester.
The Sky Blues started the quicker of the two sides and almost broke the deadlock just 4 minutes in. A mix up at the back for the Swifts allowed Johnny McMurray in and his shot deflected into the path of Mayse, with his effort going just wide against his former side. Less than a minute later the same duo linked up again as Mayse turned provider from a short corner, with McMurray heading well wide.
The home side's first attempt on goal came on 11 minutes. United captain Tony Kane lost possession and it was picked up by Cormac Burke but he shot well over on the turn. That chance sparked a good spell from the reigning League Cup champions with a free kick from Burke just lacking the faintest touch it needed from skipper David Armstrong.
The new partnership of Mayse and McMurray continued to flourish with Mayse neatly finding the latter, who took the ball down well before blasting a shot high and wide.
After a hattrick in pre-season Mayse almost opened his league account for Ballymena in spectatular style. After being nicely picked out by Kane the forward sent a fantastic low volley agonisingly wide from an angle. Just short of the half hour mark the best chance of the game came and went for McMurray. The striker pounced on an error by Chris Hegarty and played a quick one-two with Mayse before from close range McMurray scuffed a great chance wide.
On 32 minutes Ballymena's first goal of the new season came courtesy of Willie Faulkner. Out of nothing Steven McCullough found Faulkner with a terrific aerial ball and Faulkner did the rest, lifting the ball over The Swifts debutant 'keeper Alex Moore and into the bottom corner.
Dungannon were forced into a first half change with an injured Grant Hutchinson being replaced by ex-United man Alan Teggart and just before half time Teggart managed to beat Ross Glendinning but couldn't keep the ball under the crossbar as The Braidmen took a narrow lead into the break.
After the break it was the hosts who came out of the gates quickly and looked the more threatening. Corey McMullan delivered a low, pacy cross towards Jarlath O'Rourke who was arriving at the back post, but he blasted the ball over. 2 minutes later Burke did extremely well to work a solo chance but from 25 yards out his curling effort was unlucky to go just wide.
There was a huge let off for United on 50 minutes when Daniel Hughes took advantage of a slight lack of concentration from Addis but as he attempted to round Glendinning he couldn't bring the ball fully under control and luckily for Glendinning the ball landed in his hands. Glendinning's first meaningful save of the match came when a header from Hegarty, which despite not having the cleanest contact, still needed saving.
Rather against the run of play on 53 minutes Ballymena were awarded a penalty. Mayse tried to bring down a high ball out of the sky and was fouled from behind by Hegarty in the process. Kane stepped up and like so often made no mistake, sending Moore the wrong way to make it 2-0.
The second goal got United going again and Faulkner picked out McMurray with a perfect cross from the right, but McMurray powered his header wide. After McGrory had a half chance saved by Moore a succession of corners followed. From the final one Addis almost scored with an outrageous back heel flick, but it was blocked on the line.
McMullan was looking one of Dungannon's more dangerous outlets in the second half and after nice build up play he turned well before seeing his tame effort easily saved. Having already conceded a penalty, Hegarty's day didn't get any better as the defender was sent off for a second booking after bringing down Faulkner.
On 73 minutes Ballymena made a double change with Adam Lecky and James Knowles coming on for their league debuts, replacing McMurray and Winchester respectively, with McGinty getting his first competitive appearance shortly after, coming on for Mayse.
The home side looked to try and make it an interesting final 10 minutes with sub Mario Soares holding off Addis before striking just wide of the far post.
However, inside those final 10 minutes, Ballymena probed for a third goal with a dangerous ball from Knowles being turned narrowly over his own goal by Jake Dykes, before McGinty rattled the bar from close range, with Lecky's rebound being deflected wide.
The Swifts failed to create much in the dying minutes as Ballymena came through 2-0 winners with 3 points and a clean sheet to boot for the perfect start to this season.
Match report written by Philip McPeake
|Ross Glendinning (GK)||25||1||-||73||-|
|Shane McGinty (sub)||24||1||-||1||-|
|James Knowles (sub)||25||1||-||1||-|
|Adam Lecky (sub)||27||1||-||1||-|