1 - 2
1 - 2
League (IFA Premiership)
Liam Mullan (56)
Gary Fitzpatrick (45)
Martin Verner (81)
Mark Picking for Michael Ward (52)
Stuart King for Gavin Melaugh (79)
Davitt Walsh for Thomas Wray (84)
Andrew Cleary for Nigel Boyd (84)
Glenn Hand for Ryan Tumelty (63)
Aaron McKee for Darren Lockhart (71)
Aidan Watson (15)
Albert Watson (41)
Gary Haveron (69)
Nathan McConnell (42)
Mark Gracey (60)
Gary Fitzpatrick (63)
Mark Courtney (Dungannon) (Referee)
IT will doubtless have escaped the attention of Ballymena United's players that Saturday was the fourth round of the Steel and Sons Cup.
They would do well to cast their eye down the weekend's results and familiarise themselves with the workings of intermediate football in this country because that is where they are hurtling headlong towards.
The loss of senior status would be a devastating blow for the club - even when United dropped into the first division for two seasons around the turn of the millennium, it was still classed as senior football - but with every passing week, the unthinkable becomes more possible.
As if falling a further three points behind Bangor - a team who finished fourth in last season's Division One, only to tick the right boxes off the field to earn a place in the Premiership - was not humiliating enough, positive results for the other sides in the lower reaches were like a dagger to the heart of United's dwindling support base.
Ballymena are currently four points adrift of the team above them, with a hideous goal difference that is tantamount to being a further point off the pace and with more games played than their relegation rivals - all this and we're not even into October.
Ballymena had hauled themselves back from a position where Bangor should have been out of sight by the interval to equalise and were having their best spell of the game when Bangor broke away for Marty Verner to score the winner.
"It was the nature of the sucker punch," groaned United boss Roy Walker.
"We had a central midfielder (Aidan Watson) over at left-back who loses the ball when there's no-one within 20 yards of him on our team. As someone said in the dressing room, that's headless chicken territory.
"There are two games in any football match - the game when you have the ball and the one when you don't have it.
"The easier game should be stopping the other team from playing but we don't seem to be able to do that.
"Give a computer information and it gives you information back.
We're giving players very simple instructions which they can't carry out and that's the scary thing.
"My honest appraisal of the game is that Bangor got three points and that's what they deserved over 90 minutes, despite a decent spell from us without really creating anything." added Walker.
Only Bangor's wastefulness and a couple of good saves from keeper Sean O'Neill - rapidly proving to be one of the bright spots in an otherwise awful season - prevented the game from being over as a contest at half-time. But just when it looked as though an unlikely stalemate would persist until the break, Ballymena gave away a needless free kick on the left-hand side of the penalty area and Dominic Melly's free kick was headed home at the back post by central defender Gary Fitzpatrick.
Ballymena were brighter after the break and when Kevin Kelbie's cross was turned home by the unlikely scorer of Liam Mullan, it looked as though United would end their run of five straight defeats.
Instead it became six when Aaron McKee wriggled past the feeble challenge of the woefully out-of-position Aidan Watson on the right flank and squared for Verner to sweep home from 12 yards.
Match report written by Ballymena Times
|Sean O'Neill (GK)||20||5||-||7||-|
|Mark Picking (sub)||32||5||-||76||11|
|Stuart King (sub)||27||7||-||97||8|
|Davitt Walsh (sub)||22||10||1||34||11|