Ballymena United 0
Linfield 2
League (NIFL Premiership - Section A)


Ballymena United
0 - 2
Linfield 

League (NIFL Premiership - Section A)
Saturday, April 15th, 2017
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 2,280
3:00 PM Kick-off

Goalscorers
None. Jimmy Callacher (13)
Andrew Waterworth (88)

Team Managers
David Jeffrey
David Healy

Starting Eleven
28. Tim Allen
21. Jim Ervin
5. Jonathan Flynn
30. Michael Kerr
34. Caolan Loughran
4. Kyle Owens
10. Allan Jenkins
29. Francis McCaffrey
23. Leroy Millar
26. Joseph McKinney
27. Jonathan McMurray
Roy Carroll .1
Mark Haughey .5
Jimmy Callacher .6
Andrew Waterworth .7
Stephen Lowry .8
Aaron Burns .14
Matthew Clarke .16
Christopher Casement .18
Jamie Mulgrew .22
Niall Quinn .31
Paul Smyth .38

Bench
38. Ben McCauley
6. Denver Gage
11. Conor McCloskey
9. Darren Henderson
20. Neil Lowry
Kirk Millar .12
Sean Ward .15
Joshua Carson .24
Ross Gaynor .34
Ryan Strain .39

Substitutions
Neil Lowry for Leroy Millar (76)
Conor McCloskey for Francis McCaffrey (80)
Darren Henderson for Caolan Loughran (85)
None.

Cautions
Jonathan Flynn (38)
Paul Smyth (67)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Arnold Hunter (Referee)
Paul Robinson & Adrian Sobieski (Assistants)
Keith Kennedy (Fourth Official)


Match Report


Ballymena United's disappointing form continued with a 2-0 defeat at home to Linfield today.

Despite an early chance for the visitors just 2 minutes in, the contest got off to a fairly cagey start. That chance fell to Stephen Lowry as a corner eventually made its way out to the midfielder outside the box, but he blasted his shot over Ballymena's bar.

With 12 minutes on the clock, Linfield's title aspirations strengthened when defender Jimmy Callacher put the visitors in front. Joe McKinney was questionably penalised for a foul on Paul Smyth, and despite United dealing with the initial free kick, a second ball found Jimmy Callacher who headed home despite a scramble on the line.

4 minutes later Stephen Lowry tried to catch Tim Allen out with a free kick attempt from the half way line, with the 'keeper having to make a save to put it out for a corner. Ballymena's first real chance of note came from a free kick routine off the training pitch. From 25 yards out, Johnny McMurray played a low ball through to Allan Jenkins, catching out the Linfield defence, but Jenkins couldn't get a clean enough contact on the ball to trouble Roy Carroll. At the other end, Aaron Burns was next to threaten the United goal. Burns easily got away from Kyle Owens with a nice piece of skill, but then dragged his effort into the side netting.

Andy Waterworth got his first chance of the game on 26 minutes. Leroy Millar was dispossessed by Lowry who played in Waterworth, but he got under the ball and Allen easily saved. Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew almost doubled his side's advantage when he was given time to set himself for a shot from outside the box, but he couldn't keep the ball under the bar.

Having teed up Jenkins earlier in the half, McMurray had a chance himself towards the end of the opening 45 minutes. Neat link up play from Fra McCaffrey, Joe McKinney and McMurray gave the forward a chance, but his effort from a tight angle went well wide. Right on the half time whistle, good build up play from Linfield set Matthew Clarke free, who crossed for Lowry, but his dipping effort went just over.

Linfield picked up where they left off at the start of the second half as the title- chasing side continued to dominate play. On 52 minutes it would've been 2-0 to The Blues if it wasn't for a brilliant save from Allen. Lowry whipped a free kick into the Sky Blue box and it was flicked towards goal by Paul Smyth, but Allen was on hand to make a fantastic one handed save to tip the ball round the post. 3 minutes later, with Ballymena struggling to create any meaningful chances, McMurray went for a goal of the season contender attempt. A flick on from Jenkins put the ball into the path of McMurray, who went for the first time volley from all of 30 yards, but it cleared the crossbar by some distance. Smyth had a great chance to put more distance in the scoreline on the hour mark, cutting inside past McKinney and getting a shot away, but could only pull it wide.

David Jeffrey turned to Neil Lowry and Conor McCloskey on the United bench to try and find an equaliser, but between the substitutions Allen kept the score at 1-0. Linfield were awarded a free kick 20 yards out. Niall Quinn's attempt beat the Sky Blue wall, but not Allen who saved well and the rebounded effort from Smyth was headed wide.

Ballymena's last throw of the dice came with Darren Henderson replacing Caolan Loughran with 5 minutes left, however it made little difference as Linfield secured all three points on 88 minutes. As United pushed men forward, a Linfield counter attack saw Lowry play through Andrew Waterworth, who made no mistake with a cool finish past Allen.

In added time McMurray fired over a chance to give United a consolation goal, and the result stayed 2-0 as Linfield stay in their title hunt, whereas the Sky Blues made it 5 straight games without a win.

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



Squad Statistics (as at April 15th, 2017)


2016-2017 All Time
Age
Tim Allen (GK)25 6 - 18 -
Jim Ervin31 44 - 1222
Jonathan Flynn27 172323
Michael Kerr19 6161
Caolan Loughran22 272292
Kyle Owens24 425425
Allan Jenkins35 44624949
Francis McCaffrey23 175175
Leroy Millar21 361542
Joseph McKinney23 12 - 12 -
Jonathan McMurray22 37143714
Conor McCloskey (sub)25 295295
Neil Lowry (sub)23 12 - 643
Darren Henderson (sub)31 11110526



League Table (as at April 15th, 2017)


Pld W D L +/- Pts
1. Crusaders 35 25 6 4 44 81
2. Linfield 35 24 8 3 54 80
3. Coleraine 35 18 10 7 19 64
4. Cliftonville 35 17 7 11 12 58
5. BALLYMENA UTD 35 16 4 15 -4 52
6. Glenavon 35 12 13 10 6 49
7. Dungannon 35 11 10 14 -1 43
8. Ards 35 11 7 17 -11 40
9. Glentoran 35 10 9 16 -12 39
10. Ballinamallard Utd 35 9 5 21 -26 32
11. Carrick 35 5 7 23 -40 22
12. Portadown 35 7 4 24 -41 13

* - Table split into two divisions of six.