Ballymena United 3
Cliftonville 2
League (NIFL Premiership)

Ballymena United
3 - 2

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, September 10th, 2016
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 1,019
3:00 PM Kick-off

Tony Kane (pen.) (60)
Cathair Friel (80)
Tony Kane (pen.) (85)
David McDaid (22)

Team Managers
David Jeffrey
Gerard Lyttle

Starting Eleven
18. Alan Blayney
17. Daniel Wallace
21. Jim Ervin
2. Tony Kane
4. Kyle Owens
34. Caolan Loughran
11. Conor McCloskey
23. Leroy Millar
7. Gary Thompson
27. Jonathan McMurray
14. Cathair Friel
Jason Mooney
Jaimie McGovern
Jason McGuinness
Chris Curran
David McDaid
Eamon Seydak
Ruairi Harkin
Jude Winchester
Stephen Garrett
Tomas Cosgrove
Jay Donnelly

1. Ross Glendinning
6. Denver Gage
15. Eoin Kane
29. Francis McCaffrey
12. William Faulkner
Daniel Hughes
Ross Lavery
Caoimhin Bonner
Aaron Donnelly
Gary Donnelly

William Faulkner for Conor McCloskey (77)
Ross Lavery for Stephen Garrett (46)
Daniel Hughes for Chris Curran (65)

Daniel Wallace (26)
Gary Thompson (43)
Jim Ervin (58)
Cathair Friel (90)
Ross Lavery (61)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Arnold Hunter (Referee)

Match Report

Ballymena United moved into the top half of the Danske Bank Premiership after a 3-2 win over Cliftonville at the Showgrounds today.

Tony Kane kept up his 100 per cent record from the penalty spot by converting two penalties either side of a goal from Cathair Friel, who netted for the fifth game in a row.

Earlier, United had fallen behind to a David McDaid goal, while Ross Lavery's late strike for Cliftonville ensured a grandstand finish but Ballymena held on to claim their first home league win of the campaign.

United, who were missing Allan Jenkins illness, created two clear-cut chances inside the opening two minutes. With just 35 seconds on the clock, Cathair Friel set up strike partner Johnny McMurray but he could only shoot tamely at Jason Mooney. Then Friel's cross from the right was touched on by McMurray into the path of Conor McCloskey but the winger miskicked his effort wide when well placed.

Those misses proved even more costly as Cliftonville went in front on 22 minutes. Jude Winchester's clever pass inside Danny Wallace sent Stephen Garrett clear inside the penalty area and his low cross from the right was converted from close range by David McDaid. It could have been worse for Ballymena minutes later when Ruairi Harkin's free kick was headed over by unmarked Cliftonville skipper Jason McGuinness.

United came close to equalising when Gary Thompson's drive fizzed past the post with Mooney scrambling across his goal. Ballymena pressed for an equaliser in the second half and they levelled on the hour mark after Eamonn Seydak bundled Conor McCloskey over as the pair chased a loose ball in the penalty area. Referee Arnold Hunter awarded the penalty and Tony Kane sent Mooney the wrong way for his third goal of the season.

Ballymena came close to going ahead on 71 minutes when defender Kyle Owens headed just wide from Conor McCloskey's long throw. The home side eventually went in front on 79 minutes when the in-form Cathair Friel found a yard of space in the penalty area and his shot took a wicked deflection off Jason McGuinness to wrong-foot keeper Mooney.

Ballymena looked to have wrapped up victory with five minutes left when Kane again converted from the penalty spot after McMurray's cross had been adjudged to have been handled by Seydak.

Ross Lavery gave Cliftonville a brief glimmer of hope with two minutes left with a neat turn and finish but United held on to claim three vital points, ahead of next Saturday's trip to Portadown.

Manager David Jeffrey commented after the game "We play a really attractive brand of football, it's very pleasing on the eye, we create chances and we put them into the back of the net. The secret will be to defend as well as we finish, but overall I've got to say I'm very very proud, very pleased with the players, they worked tremendously hard."

Match report written by Paul Irwin

Squad Statistics (as at September 10th, 2016)

2016-2017 All Time
Alan Blayney (GK)34 5 - 67 -
Daniel Wallace21 7 - 7 -
Caolan Loughran21 5171
Jim Ervin31 8 - 862
Kyle Owens24 8282
Tony Kane29 7419616
Leroy Millar21 8 - 261
Conor McCloskey24 7272
Gary Thompson26 8 - 15818
Cathair Friel23 8686
Jonathan McMurray21 7272
William Faulkner (sub)26 4 - 376

League Table (as at September 10th, 2016)

Pld W D L +/- Pts
1. Crusaders 7 5 2 0 13 17
2. Coleraine 7 4 2 1 7 14
3. Linfield 6 3 3 0 8 12
4. BALLYMENA UTD 7 3 2 2 -2 11
5. Glenavon 6 3 1 2 1 10
6. Cliftonville 6 2 1 3 0 7
7. Ards 7 4 1 2 3 13
8. Dungannon Swifts 7 2 2 3 1 8
9. Glentoran 6 2 0 4 -6 6
10. Ballinamallard Utd 7 1 1 5 -6 4
11. Carrick Rangers 7 1 1 5 -15 4
12. Portadown 7 2 0 5 -4 -6

* - Table split into two divisions of six.