Dungannon Swifts 3
Ballymena United 0
League (NIFL Premiership)


3 - 0

Ballymena United

League (NIFL Premiership)
Saturday, April 27th, 2024
Stangmore Park
5:30 PM Kick-off

Adam Glenny (12)
Andrew Mitchell (52)
Dean Curry (87)

Team Managers
Rodney McAree Jim Ervin

Starting Eleven
1. Declan Dunne
4. Dean Curry
8. James Knowles
10. Kealan Dillon
12. Steven Scott
14. Adam Glenny
17. Cahal McGinty
23. Leonel Alves
26. Andrew Mitchell
34. Gael Bigirimana
50. Tomas Galvin
Sam Johnston .26
Ben Mallon .34
Shea McAuley .32
James Hood .41
Andrew McGrory .17
Michael Place .30
Donal Rocks .4
Fraser Taylor .16
Lewis Tennant .21
Jonathan McMurray .27
David Taylor .23

32. Alex Henderson
3. John Scott
11. Rhyss Campbell
16. Joseph Moore
19. Thomas Maguire
20. Matthew Lusty
44. Andrew Barrowman
Sean O'Neill .1
Sean Brown .29
Daithi McCallion .39
Steven McCullough .11
Brendan Barr .35
Calvin McCurry .36
Noah Stewart .33

Matthew Lusty for Tomas Galvin (58)
Rhyss Campbell for Leonel Alves (73)
Thomas Maguire for Kealan Dillon (73)
John Scott for Adam Glenny (83)
Joseph Moore for Andrew Mitchell (83)
Brendan Barr for Fraser Taylor (46)
Sean Brown for Donal Rocks (75)
Noah Stewart for Jonathan McMurray (75)
Calvin McCurry for Ben Mallon (75)

Declan Dunne (14) Michael Place (14)
Shea McAuley (88)

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

Tim Marshall (Referee)
George Argyropoulos & John Doherty (Assistants)
Ross Dunlop (Fourth Official)

Match Report

A much changed Ballymena United ended their 2023/24 SportsDirect Premiership season with a 3-0 defeat to Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park on Saturday evening, ahead of next week's crucial relegation play-off with Institute.

With an eye on the first leg of the play-off on Tuesday night, Fraser Taylor and Lewis Tennant were the only survivors in the starting XI from Newry a week ago, with Sam Johnston starting between the sticks and starts for the likes of Ben Mallon, James Hood and David Taylor.

While United had nothing to play for in terms of placings, Dungannon still had an outside chance of grabbing the final European play-off spot, and it was the hosts who made the far better start. In the opening five minutes Johnston was called into action twice, most notably to make a great save to deny Leo Alves after he'd showed tremendous feet inside the box.

With twelve minutes gone, the Swifts broke the deadlock from a corner. Hood did well to block a cross out for a corner, but James Knowles' set piece was met quite far out by Adam Glynny, whose header squeezed in at the far post.

As Ballymena slowly felt their way into the game, a piercing long ball found Johnny McMurray down the left, but with no options in the middle he had to go it alone from a tight angle, but Declan Dunne made an easy save. Minutes later another long ball to McMurray was incredibly brought down first time by the striker just inside the box, but as he tried to lift it over the 'keeper he could only chip it into Dunne's arms.

In the final fifteen minutes, the home side re-established firm control as they chased a second before the break. A low cross from the right via Andy Mitchell was just about turned wide of the post before it reached Tomás Galvin. A spate of chances then came the way of Galvin, the best of which saw Johnston tip a dipping effort round his post. Just before the half time whistle, Mitchell missed a great chance to finally make it 2-0 when he nodded wide inside the six yard box, with Ballymena's mostly youthful side happy to get into the break just the one goal down.

Fresh legs at half time saw Brendy Barr replace Fraser Taylor in the midfield, but again it was the Swifts who started the strongest. Galvin looked determined to get on the scoresheet and probably should've done better when he headed over at the back post from an Alves cross. Less than a minute later Alves tried his luck himself with a driven shot from distance, but Johnston was again equal to it to make a solid save.

The Sky Blues' resistance to a second goal was broken seven minutes into the second half as Mitchell made it 2-0. Steven Scott's delivery from the right found Mitchell inside a crowded box, but after his first effort was well blocked by Andy McGrory, the ball came back to Mitchell who forced the ball home second time of asking. As Ballymena struggled to get any sort of grip on the encounter, Mitchell nearly made it three minutes after the second when he was found by Galvin, but his shot was dragged wide.

On the hour mark came a rare United chance. Determined work by Mallon saw him take the ball and advance forward before sliding in captain for the day Donal Rocks, but his strike was straight at Dunne who held onto the ball. A host of changes from both sides broke up any momentum the game had as the half went on, including the introductions of Calvin McCurry, Noah Stewart and Sean Brown for Ballymena, who got good minutes in the legs before the week ahead.

As things petered out towards the end and attentions were turning to Tuesday night, Dungannon grabbed a third of the day and second from a corner. It was Knowles with the delivery again, but this time the reliable head of Dean Curry met it to give Dungannon a big final day win, albeit not enough for seventh spot.

For United, they won't read too much into the result with such a changed team, and focus now very much switches to a massive week for the club, starting in Londonderry on Tuesday night for the first leg with Institute.

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

Squad Statistics (as at April 27th, 2024)

2023-2024 All Time
Sam Johnston (GK)28 4 - 11 -
Ben Mallon17 2 - 2 -
Shea McAuley17 6 - 6 -
James Hood - 5 - 5 -
Andrew McGrory32 19 - 16025
Michael Place26 362968
Donal Rocks23 29 - 29 -
Fraser Taylor21 414414
Lewis Tennant19 22 - 23 -
Jonathan McMurray29 30412836
David Taylor17 8 - 8 -
Sean Brown (sub)19 15 - 15 -
Brendan Barr (sub)22 10 - 47 -
Noah Stewart (sub)20 29102910
Calvin McCurry (sub)22 132132

League Table (as at April 27th, 2024)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Larne 38 27 9 2 90
2. Linfield 38 26 7 5 85
3. Cliftonville 38 23 6 9 75
4. Crusaders 38 19 7 12 64
5. Glentoran 38 17 9 12 60
6. Carrick 38 15 5 18 50
7. Dungannon 38 13 8 17 47
8. Coleraine 38 12 10 16 46
9. Loughgall 38 13 6 19 45
10. Glenavon 38 11 4 23 37
11. BALLYMENA 38 8 4 26 28
12. Newry 38 4 5 29 17