Cliftonville 4
Ballymena United 0
League (NIFL Premiership)


4 - 0

Ballymena United

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Attendance: 1,715
3:00 PM Kick-off

Joe Gormley (30)
Joe Gormley (pen.) (44)
Ronan Hale (74)
Sean Moore (77)

Team Managers
Paddy McLaughlin David Jeffrey

Starting Eleven
16. Nathan Gartside
3. Levi Ives
4. Jonathan Addis
6. Christopher Gallagher
8. Rory Hale
13. Kris Lowe
17. Ronan Doherty
19. Joe Gormley
25. Ronan Hale
26. Colin Coates
38. Sean Moore
Sean O'Neill .21
Scot Whiteside .5
Robert McVarnock .20
Douglas Wilson .4
Steven McCullough .11
Ross Redman .3
Sean Graham .24
Jack Henderson .14
Joshua Kelly .8
Michael Place .30
David McDaid .7

32. Gerard Doherty
7. Chris Curran
9. Ryan Curran
11. Jamie McDonagh
14. Jamie Robinson
15. Aaron Traynor
22. Odhran Casey
Jordan Williamson .1
Craig Farquhar .35
Jordan Gibson .18
Andrew McGrory .17
Kym Nelson .2
Kenny Kane .12
Ryan Waide .10

Jamie Robinson for Colin Coates (81)
Aaron Traynor for Levi Ives (81)
Chris Curran for Joe Gormley (81)
Jamie McDonagh for Kris Lowe (85)
Odhran Casey for Rory Hale (85)
Jordan Gibson for Douglas Wilson (71)
Ryan Waide for Michael Place (81)
Andrew McGrory for Robert McVarnock (81)

Kris Lowe (47) Steven McCullough (43)

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

Jamie Robinson (Referee)
Stephen Donaldson & Gavin Hegarty (Assistants)
Michael McKenna (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Ballymena United were well beaten by league leaders Cliftonville as they went down 4-0 at Solitude on Saturday afternoon.

After United's scoreless draw on Tuesday night with Newry City at the Showgrounds, there were three changes as Ross Redman and Joshua Kelly came in to start, as did Robert McVarnock who made his first start for the club.

Despite the Reds sitting at the top of a crowded league table, United had fond memories of their last encounter with Cliftonville after a 4-1 win at the Showgrounds in early December, and despite the hosts being on top, Ballymena were well in the game for the opening half hour. Inside five minutes the away side had a decent penalty appeal turned down when Sean Graham went down inside the box, but with nothing given Sean Moore tested Sean O'Neill straight up the other end.

As Cliftonville began to assert control, chances followed and Joe Gormley looked set to score when he got in over the top, but an important last-ditch Douglas Wilson touch prevented the shot. O'Neill was called into action shortly afterwards to deny first Ronan Hale with a fine stop, and then his brother Rory, but on the half hour mark Ballymena's strong resistance was broken. Rory Hale ran onto a Ronan Doherty ball and crossed for Gormley, but just as the ball looked to have too much on it, Joe Gormley brought it down at the back post, before spinning and firing into the far corner for a tidy goal.

Despite being behind and seeing a good deal less of the ball, United certainly weren't being swamped, but it should've been 2-0 on thirty-eight minutes. Levi Ives got in too easily and fired across goal for Gormley who found space on the penalty spot, but he scuffed his shot wide, however five minutes later Gormley would have a second in controversial circumstances.

Cliftonville were awarded a penalty when Steven McCullough brought down Moore seemingly outside the box, but United's players and fans behind the goal were left infuriated when the man with the whistle Jamie Robinson instead pointed to the penalty spot, judging the contact to have been inside the box, contrary to the TV pictures. The decision of a penalty stood and Joe Gormley despatched of it to double the Reds' lead going into the break.

Cliftonville's half time lead was deserved, but the Braidmen had held their own, however a lack of cutting edge compared to the hosts was the difference. In the opening twenty minutes of the second period, bar a good, strong hand from O'Neill to deny Ronan Hale, it was the Sky Blues finally creating some chances.

On his first start, McVarnock was arguably the away side's best player and almost capped an impressive day with a goal when he collected the ball on the edge of the box, but with the 'keeper beat his shot came off the crossbar. Ten minutes later Redman's cross found Michael Place in the box, but as he couldn't quite sort his feet to shoot, he instead teed up Kelly, who saw his effort take a nick on its way through as it went agonisingly wide of the right post. From the corner McVarnock again tried his luck from the edge of the box, only to see his bending shot held by Nathan Gartside, but it was better from United, who were still missing that clinical edge to score.

With just over fifteen minutes to go Cliftonville put any hopes of a United comeback to bed as they turned a spell of possession into a third goal. The Hale brothers exchanged a one-two in and around the Ballymena box and it was Ronan Hale in the end who spun Redman and smashed home down the middle of the goal.

The hosts third no doubt knocked the stuffing out of Ballymena and just three minutes later things got worse as the table toppers added a fourth. Ives pounced on a loose ball and it eventually fell to Sean Moore, who with only O'Neill to beat slammed home across the goal to the far corner.

The final fifteen minutes rather petered out, with Cliftonville's work done for the day and United well beaten, and despite sub Ryan Waide having what looked to be a foul on him in the box not given, it mattered not as Cliftonville eased home. The scoreline flattering the hosts in the end, but nonetheless United suffer a heavy defeat as they continue to struggle on the road.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at January 28th, 2023)

2022-2023 All Time
Sean O'Neill (GK)34 27 - 59 -
Steven McCullough28 24 - 1948
Douglas Wilson28 111302
Ross Redman33 2411095
Robert McVarnock23 4 - 4 -
Scot Whiteside25 26 - 811
Sean Graham22 182562
Michael Place24 262455
Jack Henderson22 201401
Joshua Kelly23 2931167
David McDaid32 29102910
Andrew McGrory (sub)31 8113124
Jordan Gibson (sub)27 283283
Ryan Waide (sub)22 22210211

League Table (as at January 28th, 2023)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Cliftonville 26 17 5 4 56
2. Linfield 26 16 4 6 52
3. Larne 24 16 4 4 52
4. Coleraine 26 15 5 6 50
5. Crusaders 25 15 4 6 49
6. Glentoran 22 13 2 7 41
7. BALLYMENA 24 9 3 12 30
8. Glenavon 24 7 6 11 27
9. Carrick 24 7 4 13 25
10. Newry 24 6 1 17 19
11. Dungannon 26 5 2 19 17
12. Portadown 25 1 2 22 5