Ballymena United 0
Glenavon 1
League (NIFL Premiership)


Ballymena United
0 - 1
Glenavon 

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, November 11th, 2023
Ballymena Showgrounds
Attendance: 1,116
3:00 PM Kick-off

Goalscorers
None. Conor McCloskey (38)

Team Managers
Jim Ervin
Stephen McDonnell

Starting Eleven
1. Sean O'Neill
3. Corrie Burns
11. Steven McCullough
5. Scot Whiteside
28. Dylan Boyle
30. Michael Place
4. Donal Rocks
16. Fraser Taylor
7. Alex Gawne
10. Ryan Waide
37. Isaac Westendorf
Rory Brown .1
Conor Kerr .2
Matthew Snoddy .7
Jack Malone .8
Peter Campbell .10
Niall Quinn .11
Isaac Baird .16
Conor McCloskey .17
Aaron Prendergast .18
Daniel Wallace .23
Robert Garrett .28

Bench
26. Sam Johnston
22. Caleb Crawford
20. TJ Murray
17. Andrew McGrory
14. John McGuigan
15. Fiontan O'Boyle
33. Noah Stewart
Ben Purvis .31
Aaron Rogers .3
Stephen Teggart .20
Tiarnan Mulvenna .22
Adam Davidson .26
Jackson Nesbitt .29
Cohen Henderson .34

Substitutions
John McGuigan for Donal Rocks (61)
Noah Stewart for Ryan Waide (61)
Fiontan O'Boyle for Alex Gawne (88)
Stephen Teggart for Conor McCloskey (66)
Tiarnan Mulvenna for Jack Malone (74)
Cohen Henderson for Aaron Prendergast (82)

Cautions
Fraser Taylor (72)
None.

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Ian McNabb (Referee)
Stephen Bell & Bogdan Sfirloaga (Assistants)
Lee Tavinder (Fourth Official)




Match Report


Ballymena United lost their third game in a week after a first half Conor McCloskey goal condemned a flat Sky Blues to a 1-0 defeat to Glenavon at a foggy Showgrounds on Saturday afternoon.

After Tuesday night's League Cup exit following the marathon penalty shoot-out with Coleraine, United made just the two changes as Sean O'Neill was reinstated in goals and Mikey Place replaced an injured Kym Nelson.

On Armistice Day, Ballymena United held their annual Act of Remembrance as both clubs laid wreaths on the pitch with a flawless playing of the Last Post, before kick-off at an incredibly foggy Warden Street that made viewing more than difficult.

Probably expectedly, it was a pretty poor start to the encounter as both sides tried to adjust themselves to the adverse conditions, and it took until twenty minutes in for anything really worth straining your eyes through the fog to see. However, the first real chance was a good one for the visitors, as Conor McCloskey robbed Steven McCullough of the ball in a dangerous area and found Peter Campbell who slid the ball across goal for Aaron Prendergast, but he was denied by the first of numerous O'Neill saves when he should've scored. From the resulting corner the ball came out to McCloskey who drove into the box before hitting the deck, but strong penalty appeals were waved away.

Just shy of the half hour mark Ballymena provided a bit of pressure on the Lurgan Blues' back line, and whilst it wasn't much, concerningly it would be as good as it got all day. First, Ryan Waide showed great feet in the box and then saw an effort deflect just over, before Isaac Westendorf flicked the ball onto the same man in a crowded box, but Matthew Snoody provided a crucial block.

As the fog thickened towards half-time, O'Neill was called into action again when a McCullough slip allowed Prendergast in, but he was denied by the feet of the 'keeper, but on thirty-seven minutes it would be Glenavon who broke the deadlock. Following the break up of a Ballymena attack, Glenavon ventured down the left side and eventually a cross from Campbell emerged out of the fog to the back stick for Conor McCloskey, who was able to head home via a deflection.

A couple of minutes after the goal it could've got worse for the Braidmen when again Prendergast found himself in on goal, but again he was denied by the feet of O'Neill, as a tough to watch first half in more ways than one ended with the away side a goal to the good.

After a slack opening half and trailing at home to a side in and around them, Ballymena would've hoped for some sort of response in the second half, but it never came as the hosts remained flat and passive. That said, three minutes after the restart came probably United's best chance all day as Westendorf did well down the right before putting Donal Rocks in, but from a tight angle he fired straight at Rory Brown at his near post.

By the hour mark the fog was somehow getting worse, and that was just about all there was to report with neither side looking like doing anything, as Jim Ervin tried to change his side's fortunes with two changes, as Noah Stewart replaced Waide and Rocks made way for John McGuigan.

As United continued to offer virtually nothing, at the other end Isaac Baird saw a long range effort deflect over, with the resulting corner headed well wide. As time ticked away Prendergast could've done better with a free header in the box that he sent well over, but Stephen McDonnell's men probably felt safe enough with their lead, at least until the eighty-sixth minute when the hosts gave them a rare scare. A ball into a crowded box fell to Stewart who turned and saw his shot blocked at close range, before a spot of ping pong, but between the fog and the bodies it's anyone's guess what was going on, before eventually Glenavon cleared.

The Lurgan Blues almost made it two in added time when sub Cohen Henderson appeared to kick the ball out of O'Neill's hands, but as played went on he hit the base of the post, but it mattered not, as a United who were flat, bereft of quality throughout and possibly could've played on all night without scoring, suffered a damaging defeat ahead of some tough fixtures.

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



Squad Statistics (as at November 11th, 2023)


2023-2024 All Time
Age
Sean O'Neill (GK)35 17 - 80 -
Corrie Burns20 8 - 8 -
Steven McCullough29 17 - 2268
Scot Whiteside26 1811162
Dylan Boyle21 10 - 10 -
Michael Place25 16 - 766
Donal Rocks23 12 - 12 -
Fraser Taylor20 17 - 17 -
Alex Gawne22 142142
Ryan Waide23 13312918
Isaac Westendorf22 103103
John McGuigan (sub)30 15 - 15 -
Fiontan O'Boyle (sub)19 161161
Noah Stewart (sub)19 9393



League Table (as at November 11th, 2023)


Pld W D L Pts
1. Linfield 16 13 1 2 40
2. Larne 16 10 5 1 35
3. Cliftonville 16 10 2 4 32
4. Crusaders 16 9 4 3 31
5. Glentoran 15 7 3 5 24
6. Coleraine 15 7 2 6 23
7. Loughgall 16 6 3 7 21
8. Carrick 16 6 1 9 19
9. Glenavon 16 5 1 10 16
10. BALLYMENA 16 3 1 12 10
11. Newry 16 3 1 12 10
12. Dungannon 16 1 6 9 9