Ballymena United 3
Newry Town (City) 1
League (NIFL Premiership)

Ballymena United
3 - 1

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, December 29th, 2018
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 1,171
3:00 PM Kick-off

Cathair Friel (55)
Ryan Mayse (67)
Adam Lecky (82)
Mark McCabe (64)

Team Managers
David Jeffrey
Darren Mullen

Starting Eleven
1. Ross Glendinning
4. Jonathan Addis
19. Kofi Balmer
21. Jim Ervin
11. Steven McCullough
6. Ryan Mayse
7. Shane McGinty
20. Jude Winchester
9. Cathair Friel
22. Adam Lecky
27. Jonathan McMurray
Steven Maguire .1
Darragh Noonan .4
John Boyle .5
Thomas McCann .6
Declan Carville .8
Mark McCabe .9
Stefan Lavery .15
Tiarnan Rushe .17
Stephen Teggart .20
Dale Montgomery .21
Noel Healy .33

18. Thomas McDermott
3. Conor Quigley
12. William Faulkner
20. Jude Winchester
16. Matthew Shevlin
15. Francis Nolan
Lewis Hunter .29
Mark Hughes .11
Keith Johnston .16
Conall Delaney .19
Neil Mullen .23
Ian Curran .24

William Faulkner for Shane McGinty (86)
Matthew Shevlin for Ryan Mayse (86)
Francis Nolan for Adam Lecky (89)
Conall Delaney for Mark McCabe (72)
Keith Johnston for Tiarnan Rushe (87)
Neil Mullen for Darragh Noonan (90)

None. Declan Carville (55)

Red Cards
None. Declan Carville (68)
Match Officials

Lee Tavinder (Referee)
Richard Storey & Ken Ross (Assistants)
Diarmuid Harrigan (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Ballymena United head into the New Year with a 2-point lead at the top of the table thanks to a 3-1 win over Newry City at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.

United were hit by numerous absentees prior to kick-off, but were able to welcome back Ross Glendinning into the starting XI after a long injury layoff for the 'keeper.

A deflected effort wide from Stefan Lavery was the only shot either side could manage in a very quiet opening 15 minutes. Ballymena's first attempt came via a Ryan Mayse volley on the edge of the box but it was well held by Steven Maguire. Ballymena began to take a stronger hold on the game following Mayse's chance but it took until the 28th minute for another chance.

The best move in the game to that point saw Johnny McMurray find Cathair Friel who then crossed for Jude Winchester but his close range effort was blocked by Thomas McCann. Shortly after Mayse cut inside and got a shot away but a wicked deflection forced Maguire into a good stop before Mayse curled the rebound inches wide.

After that flurry of chances for the Sky Blues Newry got Ballymena back under control and even went close themselves with an effort from Stephen Teggart following a free kick, but Glendinning was on hand to make a good stop. From the resulting corner Teggart was involved again, this time shooting narrowly over.

A couple of minutes before the break Friel missed a massive chance to open the scoring. Shane McGinty's low ball across goal fell to Friel inside the 6 yard box but somehow the forward put the ball over the crossbar. Before the half-time whistle McMurray flicked the ball over his marker neatly onto Mayse, who unleashed another volley, this time rattling the bar as the half ended goalless.

Despite the strong end to the first half Ballymena didn't look at their best for much of the half and the second half started off in a similar fashion, as the Braidmen struggled to create.

Newry skipper Declan Carville picked a booking for a foul on Winchester before United broke the deadlock on 55 minutes. Mayse whipped a dangerous ball into the box which was met by Winchester in the 6 yard box. His effort was blocked but fell into the path of Cathair Friel who fired the ball home from close range for his 12th of the season.

United's lead only lasted eight minutes. After Ballymena had failed to clear their lines on three occasions, McCann farmed the ball out to Tiarnan Rushe on the left whose cross into the box was on a plate for Mark McCabe to easily finish and level.

However Newry were level for less time than Ballymena had led as just 3 minutes after the goal the hosts went back in front. Kofi Balmer breezed past two men whilst on a bursting run down the right wing and his cross was spilled by Maguire into the middle of the box. Friel couldn't quite reach the rebound but Ryan Mayse was there instead to bundle the ball home.

The visitor's problem's got worse within 2 minutes of Mayse's strike as captain Carville received a second yellow for another foul on Winchester as Newry were reduced to 10 men. Newry reacted reasonably well to losing a man but it was almost 3-1 when Jim Ervin, not for the first time, burst through the middle and found McMurray who lifted the ball over an on looking Maguire, only to see his fine effort come back off the underside of the bar.

As Ballymena continued to probe for a three point-securing third goal Maguire pulled off a good save to deny Winchester before the 'keeper almost punched the resulting corner into his own net, only to redeem himself by scrambling it off the line.

The points were wrapped up with 9 minutes left when a corner from Steven McCullough was glanced home at the front post into the far corner by makeshift midfielder Adam Lecky.

In added time provider McCullough almost turned scorer after a neat one-two with sub Matthew Shevlin, but the wing back blasted a shot just wide as Ballymena recorded a 3-1 success. The result sees United end the year unbeaten in 19 games and maintain a two point lead at the top.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at December 29th, 2018)

2018-2019 All Time
Ross Glendinning (GK)25 19 - 91 -
Jonathan Addis26 243243
Kofi Balmer18 181494
Jim Ervin33 21 - 1982
Steven McCullough24 242643
Ryan Mayse25 195195
Shane McGinty24 9191
Jude Winchester25 222222
Cathair Friel25 231211352
Adam Lecky27 247247
Jonathan McMurray24 1638230
William Faulkner (sub)28 13211913
Francis Nolan (sub)19 4 - 6 -
Matthew Shevlin (sub)20 4 - 7414

League Table (as at December 29th, 2018)

Pld W D L Pts
1. BALLYMENA UTD 22 15 4 3 49
2. Linfield 22 14 5 3 47
3. Crusaders 23 14 2 7 44
4. Glenavon 22 12 6 4 42
5. Cliftonville 22 11 2 9 35
6. Coleraine 22 9 8 5 35
7. Institute 22 7 5 10 26
8. Glentoran 21 5 6 10 21
9. Warrenpoint Town 22 4 7 11 19
10. Dungannon 22 3 8 11 17
11. Newry 21 4 4 13 16
12. Ards 23 3 5 15 14