Warrenpoint Town 2
Ballymena United 4
League (NIFL Premiership)

Warrenpoint Town 

2 - 4

Ballymena United

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, December 8th, 2018
Attendance: 306
3:00 PM Kick-off

Robbie Norton (35) (pen.)
Mark Griffin (86)
Cathair Friel (37)
Cathair Friel (45)
Adam Lecky (47)
James Knowles (78)

Team Managers
Stephen McDonnell David Jeffrey

Starting Eleven
99. Aaron McCarey
2. Seanan Foster
3. Emmet Bennett
9. Alan O'Sullivan
12. Joshua Lynch
16. Matthew Lynch
19. Eamon Scannell
20. Ciaran O'Connor
21. Robbie Norton
23. Daniel Wallace
24. Philip Donnelly
Thomas McDermott .18
Jonathan Addis .4
Kofi Balmer .19
Jim Ervin .21
Tony Kane .2
Steven McCullough .11
James Knowles .10
Leroy Millar .23
Jude Winchester .20
Cathair Friel .9
Adam Lecky .22

27. Berrat Turker
6. Simon Kelly
7. Mark Griffin
17. Deane Watters
38. James Magowan
39. Andrew Fox
Ben McCauley .25
Andrew Burns .14
Conor Quigley .3
Ryan Mayse .6
Jonathan McMurray .27
Francis Nolan .15
Matthew Shevlin .16

Mark Griffin for Emmet Bennett (58)
James Magowan for Ciaran O'Connor (84)
Andrew Fox for Joshua Lynch (84)
Andrew Burns for Jonathan Addis (73)

Eamon Scannell (68)
Aaron McCarey (89)
Seanan Foster (89)

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

Steven Gregg (Referee)
Ken Ross & Neil Gillespie (Assistants)
Peter McGrath (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Ballymena United made it 10 straight wins to stay top of the Danske Bank Premiership with a 4-2 victory over Warrenpoint Town on Saturday afternoon.

Ballymena started brightly in a blustery Co. Down and almost took the lead within 2 minutes. Cathair Friel raced clear on goal and lifted the ball over Point 'keeper Aaron McCarey, but the ball came off the underside of the crossbar before being cleared on the line by ex-Ballymena man Danny Wallace. Wallace was involved at the other end shortly afterwards in Warrenpoint's first chance of the game, but the defender couldn't quite turn the ball home from close range.

After those early exchanges United would go on to create more of the chances in the half, although there was little to split the sides possession wise. Tony Kane, back in the starting XI for the injured Reece Glendinning, switched play neatly to find Steven McCullough, who in turn found Jude Winchester, with his effort from distance well saved by McCarey. On 13 minutes Jonny Addis rose highest to meet a corner but couldn't keep it under the bar and in Ballymena's next attack Winchester let fly with a rocket from all of 25 yards which cannoned off the post before being cleared.

Warrenpoint's play wasn't being rewarded with chances, as highlighted by Alan O'Sullivan as he did well to get the better of Addis before hitting a poorly stuck shot which trickled its way to Thomas McDermott.

Both sides exchanged chances at either end with Friel and Wallace both firing over before Warrenpoint won a penalty on 34 minutes when Ciaran O'Connor nicked in front of Kofi Balmer inside the box before the defender was adjudged to have fouled him. Robbie Norton made no mistake from the spot, sending McDermott the wrong way to make it 1-0 to the hosts.

The lead lasted 3 minutes as Cathair Friel levelled for the Sky Blues. From the left wing McCullough delivered a sensational cross for Friel at the back post and it was probably easier to score than miss as he headed home. And United weren't finished there for the half as they completed the turnaround before half-time.

Another cross from McCullough was dealt with by the home defence, but was only cleared as far as Cathair Friel who found the bottom corner with a lovely scissor-kick finish from the edge of the box for his 8th league goal this season to put Ballymena 2-1 up at the break.

After McDermott made a comfortable save to deny O'Sullivan in the opening minute of the second half, United picked up where they'd left off in the first period as they moved 3-1 ahead on 47 minutes. For the third goal in a row McCullough swung a ball in from the left, this time picking out an unmarked Winchester at the back post. Winchester unselfishly squared the ball across goal where Adam Lecky was waiting to simply tap the ball home over an extremely muddy goalmouth.

It was almost 4-1 a couple of minutes later when Kane found Friel who was searching for his hat trick, but he could only head over the bar. For the next 20 minutes there was little action for either goalkeeper to be concerned about. The Braidmen seemed to be lacking that creative spark when it mattered, whilst Warrenpoint also couldn't seem to get much going, with Norton pulling a long range effort well wide the best they could conjure up.

However, with 20 minutes left McDermott produced a potentially pivotal moment in the match with a fine save. Phillip Donnelly managed to find O'Sullivan at the back post, with the forward inside the 6 yard box, but his effort was denied by a top class stop from McDermott to keep the score at 3-1. With 73 minutes gone Ballymena were forced into a change as Addis couldn't carry on with a back muscle issue and he was replaced by Andrew Burns.

On 78 minutes United wrapped up all 3 points as James Knowles found a fourth. Good build up play ended with a one-two between Winchester and Knowles, with the latter unleashing an unstoppable bullet past McCarey from just outside the box to widen the gap to three goals.

Whilst he couldn't do much about Knowles' shot, McCarey pulled off a wonder save to prevent Friel from taking home the match ball, saving a header that was destined for the top corner, before Lecky squandered a good chance with the follow up, firing over.
With 4 minutes of time remaining Warrenpoint pulled back a controversial consolation goal. Referee Steven Gregg somehow penalised McDermott for picking up an alleged back pass, much to United's confusion and astonishment, and after the free kick was put behind, from the resulting corner Mark Griffin was able to squeeze a header over the line for 4-2.

Neither side really threatened in the final 5 minutes as the game ended 4-2, with United's historic winning run going on to keep us 2 points clear of Linfield at the top of the league.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (www.ballymenaunitedfc.com)

Squad Statistics (as at December 8th, 2018)

2018-2019 All Time
Thomas McDermott (GK)20 6 - 7 -
Jonathan Addis26 203203
Kofi Balmer18 141454
Jim Ervin33 17 - 1942
Tony Kane31 20429845
Steven McCullough24 202603
James Knowles25 205205
Leroy Millar23 20511213
Jude Winchester25 181181
Cathair Friel25 191010950
Adam Lecky27 206206
Andrew Burns (sub)26 7 - 311

League Table (as at December 8th, 2018)

Pld W D L Pts
1. BALLYMENA UTD 19 13 3 3 42
2. Linfield 19 12 4 3 40
3. Glenavon 18 11 3 4 36
4. Cliftonville 18 10 2 6 32
5. Crusaders 19 10 2 7 32
6. Coleraine 18 7 7 4 28
7. Glentoran 19 5 6 8 21
8. Institute 19 5 4 10 19
9. Warrenpoint Town 19 4 6 9 18
10. Dungannon 18 3 7 8 16
11. Newry 19 4 3 12 15
12. Ards 19 2 5 12 11