4 - 2
4 - 2
League (Irish Premier League)
Garth Scates (37)
Darren Murphy (67)
Kevin Kelbie (72)
Mark Picking (78)
Nathan McConnell (4)
Gerard McMahon (19)
Andrew Rosbotham for Darren Murphy (77)
Lee Patrick for Garth Scates (81)
Austin Friel for Mark Picking (87)
Paul Walsh for Gerard McMahon (52)
Stephen McAlorum for David Hawthorne (63)
Paul McKnight for Nathan McConnell (69)
|None.||Brian Mallon (88)|
Hugh Carvill (Belfast) (Referee)
BALLYMENA United produced a sensational comeback to open their Carnegie Premier League campaign with a 4-2 win over Glenavon today.
The Sky Blues recovered from the shock of falling two goals behind inside the opening 20 minutes AND missing a penalty to blitz the Lurgan visitors.
Garth Scates halved the deficit before the interval with further goals coming after the break from Darren Murphy, Kevin Kelbie and Mark Picking to complete an extraordinary turnaround.
United fell behind as early as the fourth minute when Nathan McConnell was left free to sidefoot home a volley from Gerard McMahon's free-kick.
The same player should have repeated the trick two minutes later when he headed wide from another McMahon set play but the visitors did extend their advantage in the 19th minute, in slightly fortuitous circumstances when McMahon's cross-shot deflected off Nigel Boyd to completely wrong-foot keeper Paul Murphy.
Ballymena looked to have been handed a lifeline on the half-hour when they were awarded a penalty after Boyd's surge into the penalty area was ended by a mistimed challenge from Gavin McDonnell but Kelbie's spot kick hit high up on the post and cannoned back to safety.
Crucially, however, United did get a goal on the board four minutes before the break, when a well-worked move culminated in Darren Murphy's driven cross being guided home by the head of Garth Scates.
The early stages of the second half were scrappy but it was Ballymena who scored the vital next goal on 67 minutes. Paul Brown played the ball into Darren Murphy's feet just inside the Glenavon penalty area. The midfielder checked back inside onto his favoured left foot and lifted a magnificent curling effort beyond Paul Rice.
Within five minutes, Ballymena were in front for the first time when Murphy's free kick was headed home from close-range by Kelbie.
And incredibly, United scored a fourth on 78 minutes when Garth Scates' counter attack from inside his own half saw him release full-back Aaron Callaghan on the right and when his cross was fumbled by Rice, Mark Picking was on hand to bundle home his first goal for the club.
Glenavon's woe was compounded in the 88th minute when full-back Brian Mallon was sent off for bringing down Austin Friel when the United sub was through on goal. Referee Hugh Carville had earlier booked TEN players.
"It was a fantastic comeback by us and I'm delighted by the response of the players to going two goals down early on," said Ballymena boss Tommy Wright.
"We were desperate to get off to a winning start in the league and this result sets us up nicely for next week's game at Glentoran."
Match report written by Official Ballymena United website
|Paul Murphy (GK)||21||7||-||7||-|
|Lee Patrick (sub)||28||7||2||30||3|
|Andrew Rosbotham (sub)||19||3||-||30||2|
|Austin Friel (sub)||25||7||-||7||-|