Ballymena United 3
Glentoran 2
League (Irish Premier League)

Ballymena United
3 - 2

League (Irish Premier League)
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007
Ballymena Showgrounds
7:45 PM Kick-off

Gary Haveron (pen.) (3)
Kevin Kelbie (52)
Kevin Kelbie (73)
Gary Hamilton (15)
Gary Hamilton (66)

Team Managers
Tommy Wright
Paul Millar

Starting Eleven
Paul Murphy
Aaron Callaghan
Craig McClean
Darren Murphy
Albert Watson
Gary Haveron
Lee Patrick
Mark Picking
Aidan Watson
Darren Fitzgerald
Randal Reid
Elliott Morris
Colin Nixon
Kyle Neill
Ryan Berry
Paul Leeman
Gary Smyth
Sean Ward
Willo McDonagh
Michael Halliday
Gary Hamilton
Peter McCann

Stuart King
Garth Scates
Kevin Kelbie
Jason Hill
Chris Morgan
Cullen Feeney

Kevin Kelbie for Randal Reid (31)
Garth Scates for Aidan Watson (41)
Stuart King for Darren Murphy (68)
Jason Hill for Peter McCann (61)
Chris Morgan for Kyle Neill (80)
Cullen Feeney for Ryan Berry (88)

None. None.

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Frankie Hiles (Coleraine) (Referee)

Match Report

BALLYMENA United began 2007 in the same winning form as they ended 2006 with a stunning 3-2 victory over Glentoran at the Showgrounds tonight.

Two goals from substitute Kevin Kelbie - his first goals since October - eventually saw off the resistance of the league leaders in a thrilling encounter.

Gary Haveron had given United the perfect start by scoring a penalty inside the first three minutes but the Glens responded with an equaliser inside the opening quarter of an hour.

Kelbie headed United back in front in the second half only to see Colin Nixon again level for the visitors, but the Scottish striker had the final say with another headed goal to give Ballymena a morale-boosting win.

"It was a fantastic game and obviously I'll be the happier of the two managers, not least because of the way my players worked and fought for each other," said United boss Tommy Wright.

But the manager sounded a note of caution, adding: "Winning at Newry and now against Glentoran won't mean anything if we don't go on and follow it up by getting a positive result at Glenavon on Saturday."

Despite the switch to January 2 in order to facilitate the New Year's Day stock car meeting, the attendance was not affected as greatly as might have been predicted, with a large crowd savouring a thoroughly entertaining match played in driving rain.

Ballymena drew first blood in the third minute when referee Frankie Hiles adjudged that Kyle Neill had blocked Randal Reid's cross with his hand and Gary Haveron - as he did at Newry on Saturday - completed the job from the penalty spot, driving the ball under keeper Elliott Morris' body.

But the league leaders were level on 15 minutes when, from Michael Halliday's low cross from the right, the ball ended up in the back of the net following an almighty melee. Glentoran's leading scorer Gary Hamilton claimed the goal but it appeared the final touch came off either one of United pair Aaron Callaghan or Albert Watson.

Lee Patrick had a shot cleared off the line by Colin Nixon before the Glens assumed control of the remainder of the half, with Paul Murphy making a smart stop from Peter McCann, while the winger was also unfortunate to see a cross-cum-shot come back off the face of the crossbar.

So it was quite a surprise when Ballymena regained the lead seven minutes after the break. Garth Scates whipped in a free kick from the left flank and Kelbie - who had replaced Randal Reid in the first half after the young striker sustained a facial injury - flashed a header past the motionless Morris.

Back came the Glens with a beautifully-worked equaliser on 66 minutes. Right-back Nixon made a typically surging run and exchanged passes with Gary Hamilton before clipping an effort past Murphy.

But United still weren't finished and came up with a superb winner on 73 minutes. Winning possession just inside the Glentoran half on the right flank, Mark Picking slipped the ball into the path of Stuart King whose wonderful right-footed cross was met by a powerful downward header from Kelbie.

In a frantic finish, Ballymena were at full stretch to hold the Glens at bay but defended stoutly to record their first home victory over their east Belfast opponents for seven years.

Match report written by Official Ballymena United website

Squad Statistics (as at January 2nd, 2007)

2006-2007 All Time
Paul Murphy (GK)21 23 - 23 -
Aaron Callaghan20 22 - 22 -
Craig McClean21 9 - 42 -
Darren Murphy31 191191
Albert Watson21 2211575
Gary Haveron25 213647
Lee Patrick28 173404
Mark Picking31 226226
Aidan Watson20 18 - 493
Darren Fitzgerald29 152267
Randal Reid20 73103
Garth Scates (sub)27 2221138
Stuart King (sub)25 121474
Kevin Kelbie (sub)21 2185224

League Table (as at January 2nd, 2007)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Glentoran 16 11 3 2 36
2. Linfield 15 10 4 1 34
3. Portadown 16 10 4 2 34
4. Cliftonville 16 9 5 2 32
5. Crusaders 16 10 1 5 31
6. Distillery 16 8 4 4 28
7. Dungannon 16 8 3 5 27
8. Coleraine 16 7 3 6 24
9. BALLYMENA UTD 16 6 4 6 22
10. Armagh City 16 6 1 9 19
11. Newry 16 4 5 7 17
12. Limavady Utd 15 4 3 8 15
13. Glenavon 16 3 4 9 13
14. Donegal Celtic 16 2 6 8 12
15. Loughgall 16 0 5 11 5
16. Larne 16 1 1 14 4