Ballymena United 0
Crusaders 1
League (NIFL Premiership)

Ballymena United
0 - 1

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, October 9th, 2021
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 1,282
3:00 PM Kick-off

None. Jarlath O'Rourke (13)

Team Managers
David Jeffrey
Stephen Baxter

Starting Eleven
1. Jordan Williamson
4. Douglas Wilson
22. Conor Keeley
3. Ross Redman
17. Andrew McGrory
6. Owen McKeown
7. Jude Winchester
14. Jack Henderson
23. Leroy Millar
9. Paul McElroy
27. Jonté Smith
Jonathan Tuffey .33
BJ Burns .2
Aidan Wilson .4
Robert Weir .6
Ben Kennedy .8
Jonathan Frazer .10
Jordan Forsythe .14
Jarlath O'Rourke .15
Paul Heatley .22
Joshua Robinson .24
Jonathan McMurray .27

26. Sam Johnston
15. Christopher Rodgers
2. Lee Chapman
16. Brendan Barr
29. Spencer Beattie
18. Daniel Bramall
12. Kenny Kane
Sean O'Neill .1
Christopher Hegarty .3
Adam Lecky .9
Brandon Doyle .11
Declan Caddell .12
Jordan Owens .18
Ross Clarke .25

Daniel Bramall for Jonté Smith (68)
Brendan Barr for Jude Winchester (82)
Kenny Kane for Owen McKeown (88)
Spencer Beattie for Andrew McGrory (88)
Adam Lecky for Jonathan Frazer (58)
Ross Clarke for Jonathan McMurray (58)
Declan Caddell for Paul Heatley (79)

None. BJ Burns (85)
Jarlath O'Rourke (87)
Robert Weir (88)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Raymond Crangle (Referee)
Stephen Bell & Bogdan Sfirloaga (Assistants)
Peter McGrath (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Ballymena United suffered a fifth defeat in seven league games after a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Crusaders at The Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.

United were able to welcome Conor Keeley and Dougie Wilson back from injury to partner at centre half in place of Caolan Loughran and Chrissy Rodgers. Owen McKeown, Andy McGrory and Jack Henderson also came in, in place of Steven McCullough, Lee Chapman and Ryan Waide, who is on Northern Ireland U21 duty.

Ballymena were looking for a bounce back from last week's dire defeat in Carrick and they started fairly well, with McKeown firing just over after great play by Leroy Millar early doors.

The Crues soon began to grow into the game and after Johnny McMurray had a header comfortably saved on his old stomping ground, on thirteen minutes the visitors added to Ballymena's recent problems by taking the lead. Billy Joe Burns teed up Jordan Forsythe for a cross and it found Jarlath O'Rourke at the back post, who headed home untroubled.

The opener would mark a bit of an onslaught on the Ballymena goal, with Forsythe sending a good chance over before Jordan Williamson made a big save to keep out Josh Robinson. Williamson was called into action again shortly after to get down low and save a curling Ben Kennedy effort, but United were by this stage on the ropes. The hosts were struggling to create anything, with Jonte Smith spending most of the half isolated up top on his own, and a tame Paul McElroy header was Ballymena's only first half shot on target.

Crusaders could easily have went into the break two clear late on when McMurray caused Wilson all sorts of problems to close in on the box, with the ball eventually falling to Johnny Frazer, whose shot deflected off Ross Redman and just over. From the corner, yet another free header for Crusaders presented Aidan Wilson with a chance, but he couldn't hit the target as Ballymena got into the break just one behind.

After another tough first half, Ballymena certainly picked it up for parts of the second half, and when McKeown did well to get a cross in, it was parried into the middle of the box by Jonny Tuffey, but no one was there in Sky Blue to turn the rebound home.
Down the other end it could've been 2-0 when one long ball put Paul Heatley in, but his effort was hooked off the line well by Keeley, before another free header, this time from Burns, went over from close range.

On sixty-three minutes it looked like a big chance could finally come the hosts way when dazzling feet from Jude Winchester put Paul McElroy through, but after sorting his feet out, he took the shot early from distance and skewed it well wide.
The biggest chance of the half for United to level came seventeen minutes from time, and it was a glorious one. Substitute Dan Bramall saw a dangerous cross headed back across goal for Keeley, and his header came crashing off the underside of the bar, before Crusaders cleared their lines.

After a trio of changes to bring Brendan Barr, Kenny Kane and Spencer Beattie into the action, Ballymena piled pressure onto Crusaders in the final five minutes with countless balls into the red and black box, as the away side were firmly penned in. Unfortunately for the Braidmen, no one was able to make one ball count, with the best chance coming from great feet from Millar to deliver a ball across the six yard box, but again no one was there to tap the ball home.

An improved second half performance from United, certainly compared to last week, but the late pressure came too little too late for David Jeffrey's men who continue to drop points.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at October 9th, 2021)

2021-2022 All Time
Jordan Williamson (GK)26 8 - 47 -
Ross Redman31 8 - 503
Conor Keeley23 72266
Douglas Wilson27 3 - 3 -
Andrew McGrory29 2 - 9120
Jack Henderson20 6 - 6 -
Owen McKeown24 7 - 21 -
Leroy Millar26 9119829
Jude Winchester28 719011
Jonté Smith27 6161
Paul McElroy27 945120
Daniel Bramall (sub)23 9 - 9 -
Spencer Beattie (sub)19 5 - 8 -
Brendan Barr (sub)20 4 - 4 -
Kenny Kane (sub)22 3 - 293

League Table (as at October 9th, 2021)

Warning: array_multisort(): Argument #1 is expected to be an array or a sort flag in /home/customer/www/ on line 205
Pld W D L +/- Pts

* - Table split into two divisions of six.