Carrick Rangers 0
Ballymena United 1
League (NIFL Premiership)


0 - 1

Ballymena United

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, September 9th, 2023
Taylors Avenue
Attendance: 613
3:00 PM Kick-off

None. Isaac Westendorf (pen.) (26)

Team Managers
Stuart King Jim Ervin

Starting Eleven
1. Ross Glendinning
2. Kurtis Forsythe
5. Albert Watson
7. David Cushley
10. Curtis Allen
11. Nedas Maciulatis
17. Joshua Andrews
20. Kyle Cherry
23. Reece Glendinning
24. Daniel Purkis
39. Ben Tilney
Sean O'Neill .1
Corrie Burns .3
Scot Whiteside .5
Colin Coates .6
Steven McCullough .11
Kym Nelson .2
Donal Rocks .4
Fraser Taylor .16
Isaac Westendorf .37
Alex Gawne .7
Ryan Waide .10

25. Ben McCauley
4. Mark Surgenor
8. Andrew Mitchell
9. Emmett McGuckin
15. Benjamin Buchanan-Rolleston
22. Jaydyn Withers
26. Pearse O'Prey
Sam Johnston .26
TJ Murray .20
Lewis Tennant .21
Andrew McGrory .17
Jonathan McMurray .27
Cathair Friel .9
Fiontan O'Boyle .15

Mark Surgenor for Joshua Andrews (46)
Emmett McGuckin for Reece Glendinning (63)
Lewis Tennant for Kym Nelson (57)
Fiontan O'Boyle for Alex Gawne (68)
Cathair Friel for Ryan Waide (73)

Albert Watson (25)
Reece Glendinning (52)
David Cushley (77)
Nedas Maciulatis (90)
Donal Rocks (14)
Fraser Taylor (32)
Colin Coates (63)
Sean O'Neill (90)

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

Raymond Crangle (Referee)
Kristian Hanna & Bogdan Sfirloaga (Assistants)
Steven Gregg (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Ballymena United finally have their first points of the new season as a first half Isaac Westendorf penalty was enough to secure a 1-0 win over Carrick at the Loughview Leisure Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Jim Ervin made three changes from Tuesday night's shock Toals Co. Antrim Shield exit to Knockbreda as he returned to Taylor's Avenue, with first starts for Isaac Westendorf and Corrie Burns and a return for Steven McCullough.

It was an even, but fast, start on a sweltering day by the sea, with the game's first effort going high and wide via Ben Tilney, before Sean O'Neill saved a deflected ball across goal by Nedas Maciulaitis. Following those chances, it was United's turn to create, as Fraser Taylor showed terrific feet before bending a shot over and Scot Whiteside had a header held by Ross Glendinning.

On thirteen minutes the hosts had an extremely soft penalty appeal turned down when Danny Purkis made the most of minimal contact, leading to a heated discussion between the two managers in either dugout who had worked together just last season, but ten minutes later a stonewall penalty was given the Braidmen's way.

Westendorf had carried on from midweek as he tormented the Carrick backline, and when he knocked the ball past Albert Watson, the former United man brought the loanee down in the box, with the double jeopardy rule helping Watson avoid a red. Isaac Westendorf dusted himself down to take the spot kick he'd won, and it just about squeezed past Glendinning to give the forward two goals in his first two games.

The goal gave the visitors reward for a promising opening half hour or so, but they needed O'Neill to be alert again to bat away a Maciulaitis effort, before a glorious chance came the Sky Blues' way. Just beforehand, a fantastic run from a fantastic Donal Rocks started in his own half and ended with a shot blocked in the box, before link up between Westendorf and Taylor should've yielded a goal. The forward's tidy flick round the corner put the Scotsman in with just Glendinning to beat, but the 'keeper made a good stop, before David Cushley denied Taylor again on the rebound.

In the final ten minutes of the half, it was Carrick who pushed and look the more likely to grab a goal before the break. They almost had one eight minutes from the interval, but for a stunning O'Neill double save. After a bit of play around a crowded box, Kyle Cherry's strike was well saved but it landed at the feet of Purkis, however he was denied from point blank range by O'Neill's reflexes, a save so good the Carrick bench were already up to celebrate what looked a certain goal.

The first half had been fairly open and entertaining, but the second forty-five and a bit was less so as United were asked to grind their way to a result. That said, they started brightly and had the half's first chance as a deep Rocks free kick was headed over at the back stick by Kym Nelson. It was one of Nelson's last actions as shortly afterwards injury brought an early end to a good day's work, as he was replaced by Lewis Tennant.

Tilney is so often a bit of a problem when United head to Carrick and as the second half went on his presence continued to grow. The full back danced his way past three men in black before his edge of the box shot was blocked by a top-drawer Colin Coates, before the away side were caught sleeping when a short corner came to Tilney, but his shot was blocked just wide.

Heading into the final twenty minutes it was almost all Carrick as they looked to level, but United stood firm in chasing a first clean sheet this season. A period of sustained pressure was eased when a Watson half volley from all of forty yards flew out of the ground, before another good O'Neill stop denied Mark Surgenor at the near post. Minutes after that save O'Neill was at it yet again when Curtis Allen spun his man on the edge of the box and looked to pick out the bottom corner, but Ballymena's saviour did the business with a diving save.

Such was the shift put in, Coates and Westendorf found themselves down with injury multiple times late on, but with United's three substitute making windows gone the pair had to soldier on, and on the break they could've sown the game up. First, Taylor scuffed a shot well wide, before a mix up between him and Westendorf wasted a great chance. With most of the Amber Army up, Ballymena broke two on one, but Taylor took far too long to play Westendorf in over the top, and by the time he did, the former Newcastle man had strayed offside.

Inside eight minutes of added time, Carrick huffed and puffed but got very little change from Ballymena, with their best chance looking like coming Maciulaitis' way, only for a vital last-ditch touch from Burns.

A feeling of huge relief at full time for United, as Jim Ervin picks up his first points as a manager at the seventh time of asking, with a gritty showing and clean sheet hopefully kickstarting Ballymena's season.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at September 9th, 2023)

2023-2024 All Time
Sean O'Neill (GK)35 8 - 71 -
Steven McCullough29 7 - 2168
Corrie Burns20 1 - 1 -
Scot Whiteside26 8 - 1061
Colin Coates37 5252
Donal Rocks23 4 - 4 -
Fraser Taylor20 6 - 6 -
Kym Nelson28 8 - 635
Alex Gawne22 4 - 4 -
Isaac Westendorf22 2222
Ryan Waide23 7112316
Lewis Tennant (sub)19 4 - 5 -
Fiontan O'Boyle (sub)18 6 - 6 -
Cathair Friel (sub)30 3 - 16570

League Table (as at September 9th, 2023)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Linfield 6 5 1 0 16
2. Glentoran 7 5 1 1 16
3. Crusaders 6 4 2 0 14
4. Larne 6 3 3 0 12
5. Cliftonville 6 3 1 2 10
6. Loughgall 6 2 2 2 8
7. Coleraine 6 2 2 2 8
8. Carrick 7 2 1 4 7
9. Newry 7 2 0 5 6
10. Dungannon 7 1 2 4 5
11. Glenavon 7 1 1 5 4
12. BALLYMENA 7 1 0 6 3