3 - 0
UEFA Europa League (1st Qual. Rnd - Leg 1)
Stefan Mladenovic (1)
Martin Broberg (53)
Sigurd Haugen (90)
12. Viljar Rosholt Myhra
2. Espen Ruud
4. Vegard Bergan
7. Martin Erik Broberg
8. Jone Samuelsen
10. Olivier Occean
13. Stefan Mladenovic
16. Frederik Semb Berge
18. Joakim Vage Nielsen
20. Fredrik Oldrup Jensen
27. Pape Pate Diouf
Ross Glendinning .1
Kyle Owens .4
Jim Ervin .21
Tony Kane .2
Jonathan Flynn .5
Michael Gault .6
Leroy Millar .23
Conor McCloskey .11
Cathair Friel .9
Joseph McKinney .26
Kevin Braniff .10
1. Sondre Rossbach
6. Oliver Berg
11. Rafik Zekhnini
14. Fredrik Nordkvelle
15. Sigurd Haugen
21. Steffen Hagen
24. Riku Riski
Steven McCullough .22
Andrew Burns .14
Emmet Friars .3
Eoin Kane .15
William Faulkner .12
Jonathan McMurray .27
Rafik Zekhnini for Pape Pate Diouf (46)
Fredrik Nordkvelle for Jone Samuelsen (62)
Sigurd Haugen for Stefan Mladenovic (77)
Emmet Friars for Kyle Owens (58)
Jonathan McMurray for Cathair Friel (72)
William Faulkner for Tony Kane (80)
Pape Pate Diouf (36)
Martin Broberg (55)
Jonathan Flynn (43)
Jim Ervin (55)
Edin Jakupovic (Bosnia) (Referee)
Ballymena United were left ruing goals in the first and last minutes of their UEFA Europa League game against Norwegian side Odds Ballklub on Thursday evening.
David Jeffrey's Sky Blues returned to European competition for the first time in 13 years, as they competed in the first qualifying round, first leg tie of Europe's secondary major competition. Despite most of the club's summer signings making the trip to Skien, only experienced midfielder Michael Gault was afforded a competitive debut with the manager relying on the core of his squad.
Playing into the strong evening sunshine it was a disastrous start for the travelling Braidmen as they found themselves a goal behind after just 34 seconds! The home side caught Ballymena napping as they took advantageous of some nervous defending with Stefan Mladenovic slipping the ball under Ross Glendinning.
Undeterred, the part-time visitors settled into the game slowly as they dealed with the early pressure from Odds. In the first 15 minutes, Swedish winger Martin Erik Broberg was causing problems and had a shot fired across the face of goal whilst Pape Diouf had an ambitious overhead kick cause Glendinning no problems.
United were restricted to a handful of attacks in the first half, mostly revolving around unsuccessful set pieces but stood up to the physical test of their professional opponents with Diouf booked after 36 minutes following an altercation with Leroy Millar. Johnny Flynn was also booked late in a half where Ballymena managed the game well given the circumstances, soaking up the pressure and limiting the home side's chances.
The second half started with similar early woe as United with a double blow. Seven minutes after the restart Johnny Flynn conceded a penalty when his outstretched leg caught Canadian international Olivier Occean. Odds captain Jone Samuelsen stepped up but could only rattle the crossbar with his powerful effort, but Martin Broberg was on hand to react quickest heading home with Glendinning scrambling across goal.
A minute after going two goals down, United's second misfortune came when Kyle Owens fell awkwardly on the artificial surface whilst challenging for a header. Following treatment he was replaced by Emmet Friars, who was making his debut following a summer move from Ards.
The Sky Blues continued the try and force a way into the game and their first real chance came on 67 minutes when Conor McCloskey whipped a great ball over to Cathair Friel who headed over. It was the last real action for last season's top goalscorer as he was replaced for Johnny McMurray shortly after.
McMurray made an immediate impact with a burst of energy that caught Odds on the back foot, particularly with 15 minutes left when quick thinking from Kevin Braniff released the substitute through unmarked but could only drill a low shot into the side netting at the goalkeeper's near post. Buoyed by the direct nature of the Sky Blues' approach, there was genuine hope of an away goal in the final stages.
That only made the final play of the game even more heartbreaking for Ballymena United as home substitute Sigurd Haugen cut inside on the edge of the box and his low drive deceived Glendinning who could only watch as he was agonisingly beaten at his near post for the Norwegian's third of the game and potentially ended United's lingering hopes of having something left to play for in Belfast next Thursday.
Upon the final whistle, the Ballymena United supporters lauded the efforts of their demoralised team as the effort and commitment could not be faulted.
Match report written by Neil Coleman
|Ross Glendinning (GK)||24||1||-||31||-|
|Emmet Friars (sub)||31||1||-||1||-|
|William Faulkner (sub)||27||1||-||74||10|
|Jonathan McMurray (sub)||22||1||-||43||17|
* - Table split into two divisions of six.