1 - 4
David McDaid (5)
David Parkhouse (7)
Caolan Loughran (19)
Nathan Clarke (69)
Sam Johnston for Jordan Williamson (46)
Evan Tweed for Scot Whiteside (46)
Conor Keeley for Craig Farquhar (46)
Kym Nelson for Caolan Loughran (46)
Ross Redman for Steven McCullough (46)
Leon Bonnes for Jack Henderson (46)
Joshua Kelly for Jake Corbett (46)
George Tipton for Ryan Waide (46)
Nathan Clarke for Kenny Kane (46)
Shane McGonigle (Referee)
Ballymena United got their pre-season fixtures underway with a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Portstewart at Mullaghacall on Saturday afternoon.
United fielded two different starting XI's for either half as they got their preparations underway ahead of the incoming season, and the first half saw first starts for new boys David McDaid and Jake Corbett, while Scot Whiteside made a very welcome return after missing the whole of last season through injury.
In their first game since the Irish Cup final heartbreak, Ballymena showed little signs of still feeling sorry for themselves as they went 2-0 up inside seven minutes whilst sporting their new orange third kit. First, on five minutes McDaid got his Sky Blue account opened early when Kenneth Kane's low cross found David Parkhouse who was denied, but McDaid followed up to score.
Two minutes later Parkhouse would get on the scoresheet. An impressive Kane was involved again, this time another cross from the left found Parkhouse, who powered home a header.
On nineteen minutes Ballymena were up to three goals thanks to Caolan Loughran. A floated free kick into the box looked like being easy work for the Portstewart 'keeper, but after he spilled the ball Loughran was on hand to finish.
It was almost four soon after when Corbett found space in the box, but his strong tight angled shot cannoned off the underside of the bar and stayed out.
It continued to be all the away side in the second meeting between the sides this calendar year after their rearranged Irish Cup tie last season, but a chance before the break came and went for Parkhouse, before a good save denied an acrobatic effort from Ryan Waide. On half time McDaid showed great skill before having a go from well out, but his ambitious effort flew just over to end the half.
The second half saw a changed United as debuts were handed to Jordan Gibson, Evan Tweed, Pierce Quigley and George Tipton, with a triallist also on show.
The second half wasn't a great spectacle for the most part, but Tipton started brightly and saw a snapshot at the far post well parried wide. Ross Redman swung in the resulting corner and it was met by Triallist A but his header produced a top stop.
On sixty two minutes Quigley got in behind well to meet a ball over the top and his ball into the box for Nathan Clarke was almost inch perfect, but fine last ditch defending took the ball off Clarke's boot.
With twenty minutes left Ballymena grabbed a fourth via a deflected effort. Another Redman corner was cleared to Clarke, and his shot took a deflection to wrongfoot the 'keeper, but it was a goal Clarke deserved with a steady and impressive half from the youngster.
In the final few minutes Sam Johnston was finally called into action by the Intermediate side as he held a long range free kick, before making a fine save low to his left.
The last five minutes saw a bit of tension as tempers were raised by one or two minor incidents, before Portstewart were awarded a penalty late on for a push in the box by Redman. Jamie Adams calmly slotted the penalty home, but for United it was productive start to pre season with plenty of goals and minutes in legs by the seaside.
Match report written by Philip McPeake (www.ballymenaunitedfc.com)
No games played.