Ballymena United 1
Carrick Rangers 0
League (NIFL Premiership)

Ballymena United
1 - 0

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, April 29th, 2023
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 990
5:30 PM Kick-off

Joshua Kelly (52)

Team Managers
David Jeffrey
Stuart KIng

Starting Eleven
1. Jordan Williamson
35. Craig Farquhar
11. Steven McCullough
3. Ross Redman
5. Scot Whiteside
4. Douglas Wilson
18. Jordan Gibson
8. Joshua Kelly
17. Andrew McGrory
30. Michael Place
7. David McDaid
Aaron Hogg .18
Kurtis Forsythe .2
Jim Ervin .5
David Cushley .7
Andrew Mitchell .8
Emmett McGuckin .9
Alex Gawne .11
Benjamin Buchanan.Rolleston .15
Reece Glendinning .23
Ben Tilney .39
Lloyd Anderson .42

21. Sean O'Neill
20. Robert McVarnock
2. Kym Nelson
25. George Tipton
16. Evan Tweed
12. Kenny Kane
10. Ryan Waide
Ross Glendinning .1
Mark Surgenor .4
Ronan Kalla .14
Kyle Cherry .20
Nedas Maciulaitis .30
Scott Graham .48
Joshua Andrews .50

Sean O'Neill for Jordan Williamson (46)
Kym Nelson for Douglas Wilson (60)
Ryan Waide for David McDaid (60)
Kenny Kane for Jordan Gibson (60)
Robert McVarnock for Andrew McGrory (60)
Mark Surgenor for Jim Ervin (65)
Kyle Cherry for Lloyd Anderson (65)
Nedas Maciulaitis for Alex Gawne (65)
Ronan Kalla for Benjamin Buchanan.Rolleston (75)
Scott Graham for Andrew Mitchell (83)

None. None.

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Mark Dillon (Referee)
Ken Ross & John Doherty (Assistants)
Shane Andrews (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Joshua Kelly's second half header gave Ballymena United a 1-0 win over Carrick at the Showgrounds in their final league game of the campaign on Saturday evening.

Ahead of next weekend's Samuel Gelston's Whiskey Irish Cup final with Crusaders at the National Stadium, David Jeffrey MBE made five changes, including returns for David McDaid and Joshua Kelly.

With neither side having anything to play for other than pride with their league positions unchangeable, the first half had a bit of a typical end of season game feel to it. It took until the fifteenth minute for anything at all meaningful to happen, but it ended with McDaid lobbing Aaron Hogg to score, but an offside flag brought an end to any celebrations.

Following McDaid's no goal, it was the visiting side who began to create the more chances, but without overly troubling Jordan Williamson. A curling effort from Alex Gawne was easily held by United's 'keeper, but after David Cushley scuffed a shot wide, Gawne let a huge chance pass him by. Ben Tilney had the time and space down the left to cut the ball back to the edge of the box for Gawne in acres of space, but he leaned back and fired well over.

Two minutes before the break and with the half rather drifting, Carrick had the chance to break the deadlock from the penalty spot after Kelly wiped out Gawne in the box. It was Cushley who stepped up against his former club, but he saw his penalty hit the inside of the post and come back out to keep it at 0-0. There was still time for a Tilney chance but his strong shot was well saved by Williamson, as the half ended goalless.

That save late on was Williamson's final action, as perhaps with a selection dilemma ahead of next week's final, Sean O'Neill got the second forty-five minutes.

The Braidmen started the second half brightly and well on top, and should've been ahead inside five minutes. A dangerous cross from Andrew McGrory found his wing back partner Ross Redman at the back post, but his header was blocked before his follow up shot was miraculously blocked on the line by Jim Ervin.

Thankfully, United hadn't long to wait for a goal as two minutes later the skipper nodded his side ahead. After a foul on Michael Place, Redman whipped in a standard Redman delivery and it was met by Joshua Kelly whose header was too in the corner for Hogg to reach. It was very nearly 2-0 shortly afterwards with another McGrory cross finding its target, but Jordan Gibson rose too high and sent his header over.

With an hour gone and it all United, David Jeffrey gave the final half hour of the regular season to Kym Nelson, Ryan Waide, Robert McVarnock and Kenneth Kane who came on in a quadruple change. Four minutes after coming on Kane should've registered an assist, only for an incredible Place miss. Kane's low cross from the by-line went right across the six-yard box for Place who had made a great forward run, but somehow he put it over from a couple of yards.

After Kane joined McDaid in seeing a goal ruled out, Stuart King's men ended the game strongly in the final minutes of the season. Cushley seemed determined to make up for his penalty miss, as he first fired wide from the edge, and then hit the side netting from miles out on the turn.

With the game ending with a bit of a bang, McVarnock saw a cross narrowly miss Kane and then go wide of the post by inches, before O'Neill made his first stop with two minutes to go. Predictably, it came from Cushley again, whose first time shot from twenty-five yards bounced awkwardly in front of O'Neill, who made a smart stop.

A couple of late Carrick corners brought Hogg all the way up from his goal, but under a vocal ending from the United support they came to nothing, as United signed off a tough league season with a win and a clean sheet, ahead of next Sunday's mammoth Irish Cup final clash with Crusaders.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at April 29th, 2023)

2022-2023 All Time
Jordan Williamson (GK)27 16 - 85 -
Craig Farquhar19 132132
Steven McCullough28 38 - 2088
Ross Redman33 3621216
Scot Whiteside25 42 - 971
Douglas Wilson29 233424
Jordan Gibson27 424424
Joshua Kelly24 42612910
Andrew McGrory31 17214025
Michael Place25 403596
David McDaid32 41114111
Sean O'Neill (sub) (GK)35 31 - 63 -
Robert McVarnock (sub)23 18 - 18 -
Kym Nelson (sub)27 374555
Ryan Waide (sub)23 35611515
Kenny Kane (sub)23 351978

League Table (as at April 29th, 2023)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Larne 37 25 8 4 83
2. Linfield 37 22 8 7 74
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