Ballymena United 1
Loughgall 3
League (NIFL Premiership)

Ballymena United
1 - 3

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, September 16th, 2023
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 950
3:00 PM Kick-off

Colin Coates (37)
Nathaniel Ferris (54)
Nathaniel Ferris (58)
Andrew Hoey (66)

Team Managers
Jim Ervin
Dean Smith

Starting Eleven
1. Sean O'Neill
11. Steven McCullough
3. Corrie Burns
5. Scot Whiteside
6. Colin Coates
16. Fraser Taylor
2. Kym Nelson
30. Michael Place
4. Donal Rocks
37. Isaac Westendorf
7. Alex Gawne
Berraat Turker .1
Jamie Rea .3
Ben Murdock .4
Oran Brogan .5
Tiernan Kelly .6
Pablo Andrade .7
Nathaniel Ferris .9
Andrew Hoey .10
Luke Cartwright .15
Benjamin Magee .21
Caolan Loughran .23

26. Sam Johnston
17. Andrew McGrory
14. John McGuigan
28. Dylan Boyle
10. Ryan Waide
27. Jonathan McMurray
15. Fiontan O'Boyle
Daniel Devine .20
Alan Teggart .8
Robbie Norton .12
Mark Patton .14
Alberto Balde .18
James Carroll .19
Jay Boyd .22

John McGuigan for Corrie Burns (58)
Ryan Waide for Alex Gawne (68)
Jonathan McMurray for Donal Rocks (68)
Fiontan O'Boyle for Michael Place (84)
Alberto Balde for Benjamin Magee (65)
Alan Teggart for Oran Brogan (78)
Robbie Norton for Andrew Hoey (78)
Jay Boyd for Nathaniel Ferris (78)
Mark Patton for Jamie Rea (78)

Kym Nelson (10)
Colin Coates (32)
Corrie Burns (51)
Oran Brogan (36)
Ben Murdock (44)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Steven Gregg (Referee)
Stephen Bell & Rachel Greer (Assistants)
Tony Clarke (Fourth Official)

Match Report

A second half collapse saw Ballymena United return to losing ways with a 3-1 defeat to promoted Loughgall on a bitterly disappointing Saturday afternoon at the Showgrounds.

After the Sky Blues finally got themselves off the mark last weekend in Carrick, there was just the sole change for the visit of last season's Championship winners, as Ryan Waide dropped out for a returning Michael Place.

United would have hoped confidence levels had been lifted by last week's first win, but after Place struck just wide a couple of minutes in, it was the visitors who probably started the brighter. Six minutes in a free kick in prime position for Caolan Loughran could've given his former team a problem, but he blasted over, before Andrew Hoey did the same with a bending effort.

Following the opening fifteen minutes, there wasn't too much to talk about by way of chances, but the hosts were continuing to improve though, in the end, just lacked that final cross or pass to turn possession into good chances.

However, that changed eight minutes before the break when Ballymena opened the scoring for the afternoon. After Donal Rocks was on the end of a poor challenge around the middle of the half, Steven McCullough floated the resulting free kick in and it seemed to be met by captain Colin Coates, who nodded home his third of the season. His teammate Kym Nelson challenged for the header too and then also wheeled away in celebration, but the goal seems to be going into the ledger as the skipper's, as a decent enough half from the hosts saw them lead at the break.

Being critical, the Sky Blues were perhaps a little sloppy at the very end of the first half, but it ended up being a sign of things to come in what was quite frankly a second half performance that was surely nowhere near an acceptable level for those watching in the dugout.

The Braidmen were all over the place from the off, as Tiarnan Kelly went close twice, first firing over and then calling Sean O'Neill into a good save down to his bottom right from distance, before on fifty-four minutes the Villagers deservedly levelled. A short corner routine saw a cross partially cleared by Nelson, but when the ball was headed back in by Oran Brogan, United's defence stood static, allowing Nathaniel Ferris
Three minutes after the goal Corrie Burns was forced off by injury and was replaced by John McGuigan, but a minute later Loughgall's quick fire comeback was complete. Unsurprisingly, it came from another corner, with United's failures to defend set pieces now having gone long past a concern, and this time Pablo Andrade's ball to the back post found Nathaniel Ferris virtually on the goal line, and he eventually turned it home with ease.

By now United looked lost and as Loughgall continuously attacked as if Ballymena weren't there, it was 3-1 by the sixty-sixth minute. A throw in wasn't dealt with and found substitute Alberto Balde who walked through Ballymena's wobbling defence to the by line, where he cut the ball back for Andrew Hoey who slammed into the roof of the net.

Ryan Waide and Johnny McMurray came on for a shellshocked Ballymena after Hoey's goal, but in the minutes that followed it could've and should've been more for Loughgall with the hosts virtually non-existent. In a two-on-two attack Jamie Rea crossed for Balde who should've scored but fired wide, before Hoey went through on goal but struck straight at O'Neill. More missing in action defending from United allowed Hoey in to square the ball to Balde, who again should've scored only for a good O'Neill save, as the United collapse continued.

Late on, Jim Ervin's men finally stopped the bleeding but it was far too late in front of a firmly disgruntled home end. Fraser Taylor, arguably the only man in Sky Blue truly carrying his weight, clipped a lovely ball over the top for Isaac Westendorf, who's chip rolled agonisingly passed the post, before McMurray headed just wide and more great Taylor play should've yielded a goal, only for Waide to smash over from close range.

It ended 3-1, with a solid first half display undone by a second half showing that was beyond belief at times, as Ballymena remain rooted to the bottom of the league and still with massive work to do going off the second half.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at September 16th, 2023)

2023-2024 All Time
Sean O'Neill (GK)35 9 - 72 -
Steven McCullough29 8 - 2178
Corrie Burns20 2 - 2 -
Scot Whiteside26 9 - 1071
Colin Coates37 6363
Michael Place25 7 - 676
Donal Rocks23 5 - 5 -
Kym Nelson28 9 - 645
Fraser Taylor20 7 - 7 -
Alex Gawne22 5 - 5 -
Isaac Westendorf22 3232
John McGuigan (sub)30 8 - 8 -
Fiontan O'Boyle (sub)18 7 - 7 -
Jonathan McMurray (sub)28 8110633
Ryan Waide (sub)23 8112416

League Table (as at September 16th, 2023)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Glentoran 8 5 2 1 17
2. Linfield 7 5 1 1 16
3. Larne 7 4 3 0 15
4. Crusaders 6 4 2 0 14
5. Loughgall 7 3 2 2 11
6. Coleraine 7 3 2 2 11
7. Cliftonville 6 3 1 2 10
8. Glenavon 8 2 1 5 7
9. Carrick 8 2 1 5 7
10. Dungannon 8 1 3 4 6
11. Newry 8 2 0 6 6
12. BALLYMENA 8 1 0 7 3