Carrick Rangers 2
Ballymena United 1
League (NIFL Premiership)


2 - 1

Ballymena United

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, April 13th, 2024
Taylors Avenue
Attendance: 627
3:00 PM Kick-off

Ben Tilney (66)
Daniel Gibson (76)
Noah Stewart (90)

Team Managers
Stuart KIng Jim Ervin

Starting Eleven
1. Ross Glendinning
2. Kurtis Forsythe
5. Albert Watson
6. Steven Gordon
7. David Cushley
10. Curtis Allen
19. Joe Crowe
20. Kyle Cherry
24. Daniel Gibson
30. James Teelan
39. Ben Tilney
Sean O'Neill .1
Steven McCullough .11
Scot Whiteside .5
Sean Brown .29
Fraser Taylor .16
Brendan Barr .35
Dylan Boyle .28
Kym Nelson .2
Alex Gawne .7
Calvin McCurry .36
Jonathan McMurray .27

25. Ben McCauley
8. Andrew Mitchell
9. Emmett McGuckin
11. Nedas Maciulaitis
12. Lewis MacKinnon
15. Benjamin Buchanan-Rolleston
28. William Arnold
Sam Johnston .26
Daithi McCallion .39
Jamie Robinson .31
Lewis Tennant .21
Andrew McGrory .17
Donal Rocks .4
Noah Stewart .33

Andrew Mitchell for Kyle Cherry (73)
Emmett McGuckin for Curtis Allen (73)
Nedas Maciulaitis for David Cushley (84)
Lewis MacKinnon for Daniel Gibson (84)
Benjamin Buchanan-Rolleston for Ben Tilney (84)
Donal Rocks for Brendan Barr (66)
Noah Stewart for Jonathan McMurray (77)
Daithi McCallion for Kym Nelson (85)

David Cushley (14)
Joe Crowe (55)
Benjamin Buchanan-Rolleston (90)
Alex Gawne (3)
Jonathan McMurray (20)
Kym Nelson (80)

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

Lee Tavinder (Referee)
George Argyropoulos & Shane Geary (Assistants)
Jamie Robinson (Fourth Official)

Match Report

Ballymena United missed the chance to widen the gap between themselves and the bottom of the table as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Carrick Rangers at a blustery Loughview Leisure Arena on Saturday afternoon.

After last weekend's much needed win down in Loughgall, Jim Ervin kept the same starting XI for the trip to the coast, with the only difference seeing Sean O'Neill take the captains armband on his 100th appearance for United.After playing in incredibly stormy conditions at Lakeview Park last week, it was a similar story on Taylors Avenue, and playing with the wind for the first period, Ballymena at times struggled to judge the flight of the ball.

Whilst the conditions played a part in a fairly quiet opening forty-five minutes, the first chance of game came for Alex Gawne just six minutes in, but against his former club he called Ross Glendinning into a simple save after receiving the ball from a throw in.Approaching the half mark it was the away side who were probably just about edging proceedings, but the conditions were remaining the winner, which was highlighted when a strike from distance from Johnny McMurray caught the wind and flew well over the Carrick crossbar.

The Gers had flirted with creating chances, but couldn't really provide much substance within the final ball, but that almost changed when Albert Watson's flick on from a throw in was heading to James Teelan at the back post to surely tap it home, but for a vital interception by Brendy Barr who was able to head the ball out for a corner, and a few minutes later Ben Tilney tested O'Neill as he cut inside, only to strike at the 'keeper.

As the half had gone on, the Sky Blues were presented with a growing number of set pieces in decent crossing positions, but frustratingly the majority of them were misjudged in the wind and sailed out for goal kicks, with the best they could manage from one being a recycled ball in from Kym Nelson which was flicked wide by Calvin McCurry, as an even, uneventful and wind swept half unsurprisingly ended goalless.

The second half proved to be a much more interesting half of football, and for the opening fifteen or so minutes it was a half dominated by Ervin's men. Gawne went as close as another had all afternoon so far when he produced a neat turn in the box after being found by Steven McCullough, but his shot crept agonisingly wide of the far post.

As Ballymena continued to sustain real pressure on the Carrick goal that was in front of the stand housing a large and noisy away contingent, a cross from Sean Brown was met by McCurry and forced a good stop out of Glendinning as he tipped round the post, leading to a succession of corners that were met everytime by a roar of encouragement from the away end. From the final of those corners, Dylan Boyle did well to dribble his way to the byline and fizz a low ball across what was a packed six-yard box, but somehow there was no crucial touch to send the ball home.

Now lacking little bar a goal, the final half hour proved to be a real disappointment for Ballymena who seemed to lose their way after that period of pressure. On sixty-two minutes David Cushley managed to do what Ballymena hadn't when with the wind in floating a perfect ball over the top which not only found Teelan, but sent him through on goal, but he produced a scruffy finish to fire wide.

However, four minutes later, United weren't as lucky as Ben Tilney struck the game's opening goal. A lovely ball from the back via Steven Gordon found Tilney out the left, and depending on how you look at it, it was either a stunning solo run, or one that really should've been stopped at some point, as he cut in and danced his way past five men in black, before slotting into the bottom corner from around the penalty spot.

The goal, against the run of play, really did stop United in their tracks and ten minutes later, with next to nothing coming off for the Braidmen, they found themselves 2-0 behind. A long ball was hung up in the wind and not dealt with by McCullough, who then weakly challenged for the ball and was too easily shrugged off it by Danny Gibson, who made his way into the box before a wind assisted chip or cross, only he will know, looped up over O'Neill and into the back of the net.In the end, it felt like being able to deal with the wind when playing with it was the deciding factor on the day, with Carrick adapting to it better, and that view was almost strengthened when a goal kick from Glendinning caught a ride with a gust and ended up clearing the Ballymena crossbar by a matter of inches.

Noah Stewart had been introduced for Ballymena after Carrick's opener, but had saw little service as Ballymena just couldn't get anything going late on, but with virtually the last kick off the ball he scored a brilliant consolation goal. Substitute Donal Rocks drove forward and found Fraser Taylor, who passed it on to Noah Stewart on the edge of the box, and he rifled an unstoppable strike into the top corner to at least half the deficit in the final scoreline.

An odd game in many ways, as Ballymena went from solid, to well on top, to quite a bit off it over the course of ninety minutes, but with Newry also losing, the gap remains five points ahead of two massive games in the coming week for both.

Match report written by Philip McPeake (

Squad Statistics (as at April 13th, 2024)

2023-2024 All Time
Sean O'Neill (GK)36 37 - 100 -
Scot Whiteside26 3311312
Steven McCullough29 37224610
Sean Brown19 12 - 12 -
Brendan Barr22 7 - 44 -
Kym Nelson28 311866
Dylan Boyle22 30 - 30 -
Fraser Taylor21 384384
Jonathan McMurray29 27412536
Alex Gawne22 213213
Calvin McCurry22 10 - 10 -
Daithi McCallion (sub)19 8 - 8 -
Donal Rocks (sub)23 26 - 26 -
Noah Stewart (sub)20 268268

League Table (as at April 13th, 2024)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Larne 35 25 8 2 83
2. Linfield 35 26 4 5 82
3. Cliftonville 35 22 5 8 71
4. Crusaders 35 17 7 11 58
5. Glentoran 35 16 9 10 57
6. Coleraine 35 12 9 14 45
7. Loughgall 35 12 6 17 42
8. Carrick 35 12 5 18 41
9. Dungannon 35 10 8 17 38
10. Glenavon 35 11 4 20 37
11. BALLYMENA 35 6 4 25 22
12. Newry 35 4 5 26 17