2 - 4
2 - 4
Wilberforce Ocran (4)
Lee Chapman (7)
Conor Levingston (14)
Promise Omochere (25)
Keith Ward (43)
Keith Ward (65)
Jack Henderson for Jude Winchester (46)
Kenny Kane for Lee Chapman (70)
Douglas Wilson for Daniel Bramall (70)
Owen McKeown for Paul McElroy (70)
Paul Leckey (Referee)
Ballymena United surrendered an early lead to fall to a 4-2 defeat to a strong Bohemians side in an entertaining friendly at The Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.
With no league fixture due to international call up's, United got some valuable minutes in their legs in a good work out against their League of Ireland counterparts, which included former Ballymena defender Ciaran Kelly.
The home side had the ideal start on their return to The Showgrounds. Inside four minutes a delightful Ross Redman ball found Conor Keeley unmarked six yards out, but after he fluffed his lines, Trialist was on hand to score. It got even better for The Sky Blues on seven minutes when their lightning fast start was rewarded with a second goal.
Some brilliant build up play ended with Trialist's back heel ending up in the path of Lee Chapman, and he finished like a forward to send the ball into the top corner from just inside the box.
As the lively start continued, Sam Johnston got down well to keep out Keith Ward, while at the other end Jude Winchester, back from a long injury lay off, forced the Bohs' keeper into a good save after he was found on the overlap. As the visitors began to feel their way into the game, Promise Omochere dinked an effort wide before Conor Levingston pulled a goal back on fourteen minutes with a wonderful side footed shot from outside the box that flew past Johnston.
The game had its fourth goal on twenty-five minutes as a good Bohemian move ended with Promise Omochere teasing Johnston before rounding the 'keeper and firing into the roof of the net. As the game finally settled down, the next chance came for Winchester who curled an attempt inches wide from twenty yards, but two minutes from the break the Dubliners completed the turnaround as they moved in front when Keith Ward found a bit of space and curled an unstoppable effort home.
With forty-five minutes into his legs in his injury comeback, Jude Winchester made way at half-time to be replaced by Jack Henderson. The Braidmen started the second half well after being simply outclassed by Bohs towards the end of the first period, and Chapman, a constant threat down the right, put in an inviting cross that narrowly missed the head of Trialist from six yards out.
Chapman was involved again shortly afterwards as he cut the ball back to Josh Kelly who caught his first time effort well, but the goalkeeper was across well to gather. A minute later a cross got caught under the feet of Leroy Millar but fell nicely for Dan Bramall, however his shot was easily saved.
With twenty-five minutes left on Warden Street, Bohemians extended their lead to two with a piece of individual brilliance. Keith Ward picked the ball up around what was surely thirty-five yards from goal, and after looking up and seeing Johnston slightly off his line, he incredibly lobbed United's stopper to make it 4-2.
The final twenty minutes rather petered out, with both sides making a host of changes. Georgie Kelly was a threat for Bohemians off the bench and the closest he came was a glancing header that went agonisingly wide. The Braidmen's chances were nothing more than half chances with Millar having a long range effort saved and Kenny Kane sticking a difficult half volley well over.
In the end Ballymena had to settle for a 4-2 defeat, but nonetheless it was a good workout for United against a strong Bohs side, ahead of a return to league action on Friday night with a trip to the capital to face Glentoran.
Match report written by Philip McPeake (www.ballymenaunitedfc.com)
* - Table split into two divisions of six.