Larne 3
Ballymena United 0
League (NIFL Premiership)


Larne 

3 - 0

Ballymena United


League (NIFL Premiership)
Tuesday, August 15th, 2023
Inver Park
Attendance: 1,857
7:45 PM Kick-off


Goalscorers
Lee Bonis (48)
Andrew Ryan (82)
Leroy Millar (90)
None.

Team Managers
Tiernan Lynch Jim Ervin

Starting Eleven
1. Rohan Ferguson
2. Shaun Want
5. Craig Farquhar
6. Joe Thomson
10. Lee Bonis
14. Levi Ives
16. Shea Gordon
22. Michael Glynn
23. Tomas Cosgrove
25. Dylan Sloan
29. Andrew Ryan
Sean O'Neill .1
Scot Whiteside .5
Steven McCullough .11
John McGuigan .14
Jordan McMullan .24
Jordan Gibson .18
Kym Nelson .2
Fraser Taylor .16
Sean Graham .8
Michael Place .30
Ryan Waide .10

Bench
28. Aidan Dowling
3. Ali Omar
7. Daniel Kearns
9. Paul O'Neill
17. Isaac Westendorf
20. Thomas Maguire
21. Leroy Millar
Sam Johnston .26
Caleb Crawford .22
TJ Murray .20
Lewis Tennant .21
Marc Walsh .19
Fiontan O'Boyle .15
Jonathan McMurray .27

Substitutions
Leroy Millar for Dylan Sloan (68)
Daniel Kearns for Joe Thomson (79)
Paul O'Neill for Andrew Ryan (89)
Jonathan McMurray for Fraser Taylor (63)
Fiontan O'Boyle for Jordan Gibson (81)
Marc Walsh for Sean Graham (83)

Cautions
Lee Bonis (67) Kym Nelson (44)
John McGuigan (67)
Michael Place (83)

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

Ben McMaster (Referee)
Andrew Nethery & Shane Geary (Assistants)
Louise Thompson (Fourth Official)





Match Report


Ballymena United's wait for a first point of the season goes on as a trio of second half goals gave the Champions Larne a 3-0 win at Inver Park on Tuesday night.

Jim Ervin made two changes from the side that lost to Crusaders in his first home game in charge on Friday night, as Johnny McMurray and the suspended Colin Coates dropped out for Jordan Gibson and Fraser Taylor, who made his United debut in the midfield.

In what was arguably the toughest task in a long list of them to start to the season for United, the visitors started brightly as they embarked on an encouraging first half showing. An early corner was flicked on by captain Scot Whiteside before ricocheting goalwards, but luckily for Larne it flew wide.
Larne's first chance came fourteen minutes in when a fortunate bounce took the ball into Joe Thompson's pass, but he was denied by a brilliant Jordan McMullan block, before minutes later a tidy move ended with Lee Bonis flicking the ball onto the outside of the post, but bar those two chances, United looked steady.

As the half went on both teams struggled to create as a mix of assured defending from both teams cancelled out any attacking play, but there was nothing to split the sides in the middle of the park. Five minutes before the break came the Braidmen's best chance of the half when Steven McCullough floated a cross in for Ryan Waide, but he guided a decent header just wide of the far post, though had it gone in, it wouldn't have been against the run of play.
A bit of late Larne pressure to end the half saw Dylan Sloan curl an effort wide and Tomas Cosgrove have a header held by Sean O'Neill, as an extremely even half ended goalless.

If the first forty-five had given a fair bit of optimism to the travelling support, three minutes into the second half that optimism started to fade as the Invermen broke the deadlock. Larne's deadly duo of Bonis and Andy Ryan combined as the latter did well to get a cross in from the left, and his ball found Lee Bonis who really couldn't miss well inside the six yard box with a header, as United conceded another goal from sloppy defending in their box.

It set the tone for the half as whilst Ballymena kept going, they were under sustained pressure from the hosts that hadn't come in the first half. Levi Ives saw a free kick well saved by O'Neill, before Thompson and Ryan both missed big chances from inside the box.

On sixty-four minutes a first change for the away side saw Johnny McMurray replace Taylor, who received a warm reception from the away end after a more than promising first game for United.

Coming into the final fifteen United were holding on a bit, but still only one goal behind, and after Kym Nelson produced a great block to deny Ryan, McMurray almost levelled things when he met a McCullough cross, only to be denied by a quick reflex save from the feet of Rohan Ferguson.

That was really all United created all half, as despite some decent possession and defending, they just couldn't put enough good things together to worry Larne at all, and eight minutes from time it was game over at 2-0. Bonis drove forward from his own half towards the box and when his low cross missed Leroy Millar, Andrew Ryan was waiting behind him unmarked to guide the ball into the top corner.

From 2-0 the wheels threatened to really come off at the end as Larne missed a spate of chances, including a stunning Nelson goal line block, Shea Gordon hitting the post and Craig Farquhar the crossbar, but in added time Millar added a third.

McMurray had only just fired over for Ballymena at one end, but down the other Bonis had a shot blocked before he put the ball into the path of Leroy Millar, and he found the bottom corner with a controlled volley.

An encouraging first half display from the Sky Blues, but less so in the second, as another defeat makes it three in a row to start the new Ervin era, with tough assignments still to come this month.

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



Squad Statistics (as at August 15th, 2023)


2023-2024 All Time
Age
Sean O'Neill (GK)35 3 - 66 -
Steven McCullough28 3 - 2128
Scot Whiteside26 3 - 1011
Fraser Taylor20 1 - 1 -
Michael Place25 3 - 636
Jordan McMullan20 2 - 5 -
Sean Graham22 3 - 743
Kym Nelson28 3 - 585
John McGuigan29 3 - 3 -
Jordan Gibson28 2 - 454
Ryan Waide23 3111916
Marc Walsh (sub) - 2 - 2 -
Jonathan McMurray (sub)28 3 - 10132
Fiontan O'Boyle (sub)18 3 - 3 -



League Table (as at August 15th, 2023)


Pld W D L Pts
1. Larne 3 2 1 0 7
2. Cliftonville 2 2 0 0 6
3. Linfield 2 2 0 0 6
4. Crusaders 2 2 0 0 6
5. Glentoran 3 2 0 1 6
6. Coleraine 3 2 0 1 6
7. Loughgall 3 1 0 2 3
8. Carrick Rangers 2 1 0 1 3
9. Newry 3 1 0 2 3
10. Dungannon 3 0 1 2 1
11. BALLYMENA 3 0 0 3 0
12. Glenavon 3 0 0 3 0