Ballymena United 2
Dungannon Swifts 0
League (NIFL Premiership)


Ballymena United
2 - 0
Dungannon 

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, April 15th, 2023
Ballymena Showgrounds
3:00 PM Kick-off

Goalscorers
Jordan Gibson (87)
Kym Nelson (90)
None.

Team Managers
David Jeffrey
Dean Shiels

Starting Eleven
1. Jordan Williamson
35. Craig Farquhar
20. Robert McVarnock
3. Ross Redman
5. Scot Whiteside
4. Douglas Wilson
18. Jordan Gibson
8. Joshua Kelly
2. Kym Nelson
30. Michael Place
7. David McDaid
Declan Dunne .1
Caolan Marron .5
James Knowles .6
Ryan Mayse .8
Joe McCready .9
Michael O'Connor .10
Dean Curry .12
Cahal McGinty .17
Marc Walsh .19
Ethan McGee .27
Steven Scott .42

Bench
21. Sean O'Neill
17. Andrew McGrory
32. Lewis Tennant
25. George Tipton
16. Evan Tweed
12. Kenny Kane
10. Ryan Waide
Dwayne Nelson .18
Oran O'Kane .21
Corey Smyth .26
Joseph Moore .30
Jordan Jenkins .32
Mayowa Animasahun .35
Padraig Lynch .39

Substitutions
Andrew McGrory for Robert McVarnock (77)
Kenny Kane for Ross Redman (81)
Ryan Waide for David McDaid (89)
Padraig Lynch for Cahal McGinty (59)
Mayowa Animasahun for Ryan Mayse (60)
Corey Smyth for Marc Walsh (76)
Jordan Jenkins for Joe McCready (76)
Joseph Moore for Steven Scott (90)

Cautions
Joshua Kelly
Scot Whiteside (29)
Robert McVarnock (53)
James Knowles (73)
Joe McCready (76)
Ethan McGee (86)
Joseph Moore

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Ian McNabb (Referee)




Match Report


Ballymena United picked up their first league win in four months as they secured safety from dropping into any relegation play-off in a 2-0 win over Dungannon at the Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.

After defeat on the road on Tuesday night at Glenavon, United weren't yet mathematically clear of 11th spot, currently occupied by Dungannon, and they made two changes for this one as David McDaid and Joshua Kelly came in for Kenneth Kane and Sean Graham.

There wasn't much to write home about in the first half with both sides seeming a tad cagey, not surprising with so much on the line still. The first chance fell the hosts way, when after penalty appeals for a handball were turned down, the ball fell for McDaid but he struck over. After Ethan McGee had called Jordan Williamson into a routine save, another chance fell for McDaid and it was a massive one. It came after sensational solo work from Jordan Gibson saw him craftily beat three men down the right, and when he squared it for McDaid it looked like he couldn't miss, but somehow Declan Dunne pulled off an incredible save as he dived across his goal from nowhere.

After those chances it was the Swifts who were having the better of it and they looked the more likely to score. A handball from Douglas Wilson gave James Knowles a free kick opportunity right on the edge of the box, but he could only fire it over, before a diving headed clearance from Kelly just about went past his own post.

The half's final chance also went the visitors way as they finished strongly, as Knowles drifted past a couple of Ballymena bodies before his strong effort was wonderfully tipped over by Williamson, but nothing came from the corner as an even enough half lacking quality at times ended scoreless.

The second half also took a minute or two to get going, but when it did the Braidmen put in a good shift with one of their better half's in recent weeks. Craig Farquhar looked to keep his goal run ticking along when he met a Ross Redman cross, but after meeting it just inside the box he couldn't get the power on it to trouble Dunne too much. Ten minutes into the half McDaid tried his luck with the most audacious of efforts from a good forty yards out when he spotted Dunne off his line, but his effort drifted just wide.

United were now well in the ascendancy and after a really neat turn from McDaid gave him the space to slip Gibson in one on one, Dunne denied the big front man. Despite all the possession, Ballymena's lack of goals was on show again and they were almost caught with a haymaker at the other end. Marc Walsh spun Robert McVarnock who seemed to slightly lose his bearings, and it allowed Walsh to race clear on goal, but Williamson was up to denying him with a crucial save.

When Michael Place did well to fire in a low cross, it was turned goalwards by McDaid but again Dunne saved, and as the match entered the final ten minutes, it looked like being another frustrating day. Those frustrations grew when another chance came and went when McDaid played in substitute Andrew McGrory, but he too was denied by Dunne, before the 'keeper made a stunning save to turn Place's close-range header somehow onto the crossbar after a fine cross from Kym Nelson.

However, three minutes from time the Sky Blues finally found a way through to secure their top flight status once and for all. Kenneth Kane, not long introduced, robbed Steven Scott of the ball high up the pitch and found McDaid, who showed great composure inside the box to wait and square the ball to Jordan Gibson, who guided it home at close range to get a goal he was deserving of.

There was still time in added time for the hosts to add some gloss to the result, and it came via a freak wonder goal from Kym Nelson inside his own half. As the ball bounced about on halfway, Nelson put his foot through it just inside his half and incredibly his clearance flew all the way to goal, were Dunne made a hash of gathering it and the ball unbelievably ended up in the back of the net.

Nelson may claim he meant it, but even the boss found that hard to believe but nonetheless after a bizarre ending at the Showgrounds, it's a much-needed win for United who have put to bed any lingering fears of being dragged into a relegation battle, with a first win in fourteen league games perhaps something to build on with just two games left until cup final day.

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



Squad Statistics (as at April 15th, 2023)


2022-2023 All Time
Age
Jordan Williamson (GK)27 14 - 83 -
Craig Farquhar19 112112
Robert McVarnock23 17 - 17 -
Ross Redman33 3521206
Scot Whiteside25 40 - 951
Douglas Wilson29 223414
Jordan Gibson27 414414
Joshua Kelly24 4151289
Kym Nelson27 354535
Michael Place25 383576
David McDaid32 40114011
Andrew McGrory (sub)31 15213825
Ryan Waide (sub)23 33411313
Kenny Kane (sub)23 331958



League Table (as at April 15th, 2023)


Pld W D L Pts
1. Larne 36 25 7 4 82
2. Linfield 36 22 7 7 73
3. Glentoran 36 21 5 10 68
4. Cliftonville 36 20 7 9 67
5. Crusaders 36 19 9 8 66
6. Coleraine 36 17 8 11 59
7. Glenavon 36 13 9 14 48
8. Carrick 36 12 4 20 40
9. BALLYMENA 36 10 5 21 35
10. Newry 36 9 2 25 29
11. Dungannon 36 7 3 26 24
12. Portadown 36 6 4 26 22