Ballymena United 1
Dungannon Swifts 1
League (NIFL Premiership)

Ballymena United
1 - 1

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, October 28th, 2023
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 971
3:00 PM Kick-off

Isaac Westendorf (25)
Lewis Tennant (o.g.) (50)

Team Managers
Jim Ervin
Rodney McAree

Starting Eleven
1. Sean O'Neill
11. Steven McCullough
3. Corrie Burns
16. Fraser Taylor
17. Andrew McGrory
21. Lewis Tennant
28. Dylan Boyle
4. Donal Rocks
37. Isaac Westendorf
7. Alex Gawne
33. Noah Stewart
Conor Mitchell .18
Ethan McGee .2
John Scott .3
Dean Curry .4
Caolan Marron .5
Kealan Dillon .10
Steven Scott .12
Thomas Maguire .19
Matthew Lusty .20
Ladislau Leonel Ucha Alves .23
Gael Bigirimana .34

26. Sam Johnston
20. TJ Murray
22. Caleb Crawford
30. Michael Place
19. Marc Walsh
15. Fiontan O'Boyle
10. Ryan Waide
Declan Dunne .1
Niall Owens .7
James Knowles .8
Ethan Devine .9
Adam Glenny .14
Joseph Moore .16
Tomas Galvin .50

Ryan Waide for Noah Stewart (67)
Michael Place for Andrew McGrory (71)
Fiontan O'Boyle for Lewis Tennant (82)
Marc Walsh for Fraser Taylor (82)
Joseph Moore for Steven Scott (46)
James Knowles for Gael Bigirimana (67)
Niall Owens for Thomas Maguire (82)
Tomas Galvin for Kealan Dillon (82)

Sean O'Neill (23)
Dylan Boyle (59)
Steven Scott (31)
James Knowles (81)

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Shane Andrews (Referee)
Stephen Bell & Brian Wilson (Assistants)
Ben McMaster (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Isaac Westendorf's first half strike wasn't enough to give Ballymena United all three points on Saturday afternoon as they could only manage a 1-1 draw with Dungannon at The Showgrounds.

As tenth hosted eleventh in a battle at the bottom, Jim Ervin made three changes from last week's derby day win over Coleraine, as Mikey Place made way for Donal Rocks, and suspensions saw Kym Nelson and Scot Whiteside drop out for Corrie Burns and Alex Gawne.

It was a pretty quiet start to a damp afternoon on Warden Street, with a tame Matty Lusty header the only effort at goal in the opening fifteen minutes. Eventually, the encounter did come to life in a hectic ten minutes at both ends. The chances started with a United corner that was met by Noah Stewart but headed off the line by Thomas Maguire, before Gawne forced a good stop out of Conor Mitchell, who then did even better to somehow tip Andy McGrory's rebound onto the back post when he looked certain to score.

On twenty-two minutes at the other end, Ballymena and Sean O'Neill had a huge scare when the 'keeper carried the ball outside of his box and was penalised with a free kick right on the edge of the box and a yellow card, but Gael Bigirimana sent the set piece into the wall, and three minutes later the hosts led through Isaac Westendorf. Andy McGrory clipped a ball forward in the direction of the lively striker, and he did the rest with immense power, shrugging off both Caolan Marron and Dean Curry, before rifling an effort past Mitchell at his near post to the joy of his now adoring fans.

The home side were decent enough value for their lead, but within four minutes the Swifts should've been level after wasting a golden opportunity. Lusty picked up the ball on the right and drove into the box before laying the ball across the box for Kealan Dillon, whose tidy sidestep gave him all the space in the world at close range, but he struck straight at O'Neill.

As the half looked to be dying out until the break, United almost stole a second goal when Steven McCullough's accurate cross found the head of Westendorf, but he was denied a second goal by a fine Mitchell diving save. In first half added time, Bigirimana lined up an effort from distance but fizzed it just wide, as Ballymena took a narrow lead in a tight game to half time.

If the Sky Blues had edged the first half, the same couldn't be said for the second as the visitors provided most of the pressure in a half in which United failed to ever get going.

In driving rain, the tone for the half was set just six minutes in when a mess at the back from Ballymena led to a Dungannon leveller. An overhit backpass from McCullough to Burns was pounced on by Lusty who outpaced the Crusaders loanee to get to the ball and fire it across goal, where it was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Lewis Tennant as he was running back.

Following the goal, it was Dungannon who dominated possession for large periods and Ballymena struggled to get anything going, but as a more than makeshift back four/five held strong, Dungannon were limited to little chances. Neither 'keeper had anything to do, bar deal with the odd sighter, until the seventyth minute when a Curry header off a corner was held by O'Neill.

Ryan Waide came on for Stewart and Place replaced McGrory as the bench looked to inject some life into the hosts, but it wasn't to much affect as the Swifts threatened again when Lusty wasted another good chance in space, before Dungannon broke from a United corner and got in two on two, but Donal Rocks did enough to pressure Lusty into an early shot, which O'Neill saved.

With ten minutes to go the Braidmen, who hadn't worried Mitchell in the Swifts goals at all in the second half, almost regained the lead against the run of play when a corner was cleared to Fraser Taylor on the edge of the box, and cut inside neatly before curling an attempt on goal, and it called Mitchell into another super stop to tip round his post.

With the weather worsening and time ticking on, the game looked set to fade away to a score draw result, until an eventful four minutes of added time. First, substitute James Knowles saw a goal bound shot well blocked by Place who put his body on the line, but at the other end Ballymena could've nicked three points. Westendorf, who had been quiet all half after an exciting first period, came to life once more to fly down the left hand side, but as he headed in on goal at a tight angle he had Waide waiting in space on the penalty spot, but he opted to go it alone and struck well wide.

1-1 is how it finished on a day of mixed feelings for the Sky Blues who will surely see it as a good chance passed by for three points, but they may well settle for the one after a difficult second half.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at October 28th, 2023)

2023-2024 All Time
Sean O'Neill (GK)35 15 - 78 -
Steven McCullough29 14 - 2238
Corrie Burns20 5 - 5 -
Lewis Tennant19 9 - 10 -
Donal Rocks23 9 - 9 -
Dylan Boyle21 7 - 7 -
Andrew McGrory31 6 - 14725
Fraser Taylor20 14 - 14 -
Alex Gawne22 112112
Isaac Westendorf22 8383
Noah Stewart19 6363
Marc Walsh (sub)22 6 - 6 -
Michael Place (sub)25 13 - 736
Ryan Waide (sub)23 10112616
Fiontan O'Boyle (sub)19 141141

League Table (as at October 28th, 2023)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Linfield 14 12 1 1 37
2. Cliftonville 14 9 2 3 29
3. Larne 14 8 5 1 29
4. Crusaders 14 8 4 2 28
5. Glentoran 14 7 3 4 24
6. Coleraine 14 6 2 6 20
7. Loughgall 14 5 3 6 18
8. Carrick 14 4 1 9 13
9. BALLYMENA 14 3 1 10 10
10. Glenavon 14 3 1 10 10
11. Newry 14 3 1 10 10
12. Dungannon 14 1 6 7 9