Ballymena United 0
Glentoran 2
League (NIFL Premiership)

Ballymena United
0 - 2

League (NIFL Premiership)
Friday, August 25th, 2023
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 1,978
7:45 PM Kick-off

None. Junior (7)
Jay Donnelly (90)

Team Managers
Jim Ervin
Warren Feeney

Starting Eleven
1. Sean O'Neill
11. Steven McCullough
20. TJ Murray
5. Scot Whiteside
8. Sean Graham
14. John McGuigan
2. Kym Nelson
30. Michael Place
16. Fraser Taylor
27. Jonathan McMurray
10. Ryan Waide
Aaron McCarey .1
Marcus Kane .3
Luke McCullough .4
Shay McCartan .7
Jay Donnelly .9
Daire O'Connor .11
James Singleton .12
Fuad Sule .15
Cameron Palmer .17
Patrick McClean .22
Junior .40

26. Sam Johnston
22. Caleb Crawford
24. Jordan McMullan
18. Jordan Gibson
4. Donal Rocks
21. Lewis Tennant
Oliver Webber .25
Joshua Kelly .20
Leon Boyd .27
Jonathan Russell .28
Aaron Wightman .29
Rhys Walsh .35
Niall McGinn .38

Donal Rocks for TJ Murray (46)
Jordan Gibson for John McGuigan (77)
Lewis Tennant for Jonathan McMurray (77)
Jonathan Russell for Marcus Kane (46)
Joshua Kelly for Cameron Palmer (77)
Niall McGinn for Shay McCartan (89)

John McGuigan (25)
Sean Graham (29)
Donal Rocks (80)
Kym Nelson (90)
Cameron Palmer (53)
Junior (69)
Jay Donnelly (80)
Joshua Kelly (90)

Red Cards
Sean Graham (71)
Match Officials

Shane Andrews (Referee)
John Doherty & Ryan Kelsey (Assistants)
Keith Kennedy (Fourth Official)

Match Report

10-MAN Ballymena United are still without a point this season as a 2-0 defeat to Glentoran condemned them to a fifth straight defeat on Friday evening at the Showgrounds.

Jim Ervin named an unchanged XI from a week ago when United lost out by a goal to nil to Linfield at the Showgrounds, and it was an action-packed opening ten minutes to start. Inside two minutes Sean O'Neill pulled off a sensational stop to deny Shay McCartan at close range, only for the offside flag to be up anyway, and a couple of minutes later United went close when TJ Murray did well to pick out Johnny McMurray, whose header deflected just over.

However, with just seven minutes on the clock, the signs were there of another difficult night when Glentoran opened the scoring. United again struggled to deal with a corner, and this time the cross to the edge of the box was headed back into the six-yard box, where Junior was waiting to turn and finish.

Following the goal, it became mostly Glentoran, though it took them a while to turn threat into chances, while at the other end Michael Place saw Aaron McCarey off his line and attempted the lob from a good forty yards, but his effort flew over. Eventually, the Glens' chances came, as the Braidmen's main objective became not conceding a second before the break. A cross from Fuad Sule was hooked away in the nick of time by a solid Kym Nelson to deny Jay Donnelly from scoring, before Sule then set Donnelly through clear on goal, but he was stopped by an outstanding last-ditch challenge from Scot Whiteside, who was the home side's stand out performer. Donnelly remained involved in further chances as he steered the ball wide with a free header off a corner, before setting up Marcus Kane who could only chip the ball over the crossbar, as United squeezed their way into the break somehow just one goal behind.

Donal Rocks was introduced at half time to make his Sky Blue debut as he replaced Murray, and despite a pretty tidy forty-five minutes from the Cliftonville loanee, United offered virtually nothing from an attacking point of view in the second half.

It was a half of very few chances for either side, as extreme downpours made conditions difficult, with the first attempt on goal nearly fifteen minutes in, seeing Daire O'Connor navigate his way to the eighteen-yard line all to easily, only for his shot to be smartly saved by O'Neill. As the half went on the away side continued to control things with little to threaten them, but a resolute home side kept limiting the Glens' chances, with a Donnelly first-time effort that sailed wide all there really was between O'Connor's chance, and United then being reduced to ten men on seventy-one minutes.

Sean Graham, who had been booked for dissent in the first half, did his best to keep his hands off Donnelly as he ran through the United half, but he eventually made too much contact, though still a fair distance from the Ballymena goal. Referee Shane Andrews seemed content that it was nothing more than a foul, but after a lengthy delay he then opted to reach to into his top pocket and brandish Graham a second yellow, much to the dismay of everyone of a Sky Blue persuasion.

Struggling to create as it was, Ballymena's task was now all the more difficult, and whilst they came into the game a bit more after the sending off, there was still nothing to work with when they tried to get the ball forward. With five minutes to go, a first move of any real purpose saw Steven McCullough's cross miss Fraser Taylor before it hit Patrick McClean behind him and headed goalwards, but it was an easy gather for McCarey who hadn't a save to make all night.

At the end of five minutes added on, Glentoran, who seemed more than content for some time that their goal and man advantage would be enough, added a second to truly kill the game off.

A long clearance forward found O'Connor and he moved it on forward for sub Niall McGinn, who seemed to be offside, but when no flag came he crossed for Jay Donnelly who turned the ball home, prompting furious appeals from United players towards the officials.

2-0 is how it finished, with United again battling away and staying in the game against top six opposition, but ultimately a lack of creation and switching off at the back sees them fall to another defeat.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at August 25th, 2023)

2023-2024 All Time
Sean O'Neill (GK)35 5 - 68 -
Steven McCullough28 5 - 2148
TJ Murray28 4 - 4 -
Scot Whiteside26 5 - 1031
Sean Graham22 5 - 763
John McGuigan29 5 - 5 -
Kym Nelson28 5 - 605
Michael Place25 5 - 656
Fraser Taylor20 3 - 3 -
Jonathan McMurray28 5 - 10332
Ryan Waide23 5112116
Donal Rocks (sub)23 1 - 1 -
Jordan Gibson (sub)28 4 - 474
Lewis Tennant (sub)19 3 - 4 -

League Table (as at August 25th, 2023)

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