Ballymena United 2
Dungannon Swifts 1
League (Irish Premier League)

Ballymena United
2 - 1

League (Irish Premier League)
Saturday, February 24th, 2007
Ballymena Showgrounds
3:00 PM Kick-off

Paul Brown (45)
Kevin Kelbie (70)
Paul Baron (82)

Team Managers
Tommy Wright
Harry Fay

Starting Eleven
Paul Murphy
Aaron Callaghan
Simon Kelly
Craig McClean
Albert Watson
Stuart King
Gavin Melaugh
Mark Picking
Aidan Watson
Paul Brown
Kevin Kelbie
Dwayne Nelson
Thomas Wray
JP Gallagher
Jonathan Montgomery
Adam McMinn
Ryan McCluskey
Shane McCabe
Dwayne McManus
Rory Hamill
Richard Gibson
David Scullion

Stephen Lowry
Garth Scates
Darren Fitzgerald
Niall McGinn
Paul Baron
Terry Fitzpatrick

Stephen Lowry for Stuart King (39)
Darren Fitzgerald for Paul Brown (72)
Garth Scates for Mark Picking (72)
Niall McGinn for Dwayne McManus (56)
Paul Baron for Richard Gibson (64)
Terry Fitzpatrick for Shane McCabe (77)

None. None.

Red Cards
None. None.
Match Officials

Alan Black (Antrim) (Referee)

Match Report

BALLYMENA United will go into Saturday's JJB Sports Irish Cup quarter-final tie with Linfield on the crest of a wave after beating Dungannon Swifts 2-1 at the weekend.

Sky Blues boss Tommy Wright has consistently impressed upon his players the importance of not letting United's Carnegie Premier League form suffer as a result of the cup run.

And goals from strike partners Paul Brown and Kevin Kelbie ensured that Ballymena closed the gap on Swifts - the team directly above them - to four points in the race to at least match last season's seventh place finish.

Wright dismissed scathing post-match comments from his opposite number Harry fay to declare: "In the first half we looked on our heels a lot and looked as though we were going through the motions at times.

"But in the second half we were better and should have gone on to win by more, if some players had made decisions to play in others rather than go themselves."

Clear-cut openings were few and far between in the opening period, although Swifts were unlucky not to take the lead on 14 minutes when Ryan McCluskey dispossessed Gavin Melaugh in midfield and took a couple of steps before firing a shot narrowly wide of Paul Murphy's goal.

Ballymena were dealt a blow six minutes before the break when they lost Stuart King, who had to have four stitches inserted in an ear wound - the winger suffering the added indignation of being cautioned by referee Alan Black for protesting about the challenge which caused his injury.

But that was all forgotten as United took the lead three minutes into stoppage time at the end of the half. Left-back Craig McClean hoisted a free kick from the left flank into the Dungannon penalty area which appeared to be misjudged by Swifts keeper Dwayne Nelson.

United defender Simon Kelly was on hand just behind Nelson to nod the ball back across goal for Paul Brown to stoop to head home his third successive goal in a home match, despite the presence of two defenders on the line.

Brown was also instrumental in United's second goal on 70 minutes when he charged down Adam McMinn's attempted clearance and raced clear on goal before unselfishly squaring the ball to striker partner Kevin Kelbie for a simple tap-in - the Scottish striker's 10th goal of the season.

With Dungannon committed to throwing men forward, United were dangerous on the counter-attack with Kelbie shooting tamely at Nelson when a lay-off would have resulted in a certain goal for the supporting Garth Scates, while Aidan Watson failed to hit the target completely after being played in by Darren Fitzgerald.

So when substitute Paul Baron arrived unmarked to head home a JP Gallagher corner with eight minutes left, it made for a nervy finish.

There was even more drama in the final minute when the striker - who had scored twice for Loughgall in December before moving to Stangmore Park in January - almost repeated the trick, heading a Johnny Montgomery free kick against the inside of the post with the ball rebounding straight into the arms of the grateful Murphy.

Match report written by Official Ballymena United website

Squad Statistics (as at February 24th, 2007)

2006-2007 All Time
Paul Murphy (GK)21 31 - 31 -
Aaron Callaghan20 30 - 30 -
Simon Kelly22 3 - 3 -
Craig McClean21 17 - 50 -
Albert Watson21 3011655
Stuart King25 201554
Gavin Melaugh25 6 - 6 -
Mark Picking31 306306
Aidan Watson20 21 - 523
Paul Brown27 154256
Kevin Kelbie22 29106026
Stephen Lowry (sub)20 4 - 4 -
Garth Scates (sub)27 2931209
Darren Fitzgerald (sub)29 192307

League Table (as at February 24th, 2007)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Linfield 22 15 6 1 51
2. Cliftonville 22 14 6 2 48
3. Glentoran 22 14 3 5 45
4. Portadown 21 13 5 3 44
5. Coleraine 22 12 3 7 39
6. Crusaders 22 11 4 7 37
7. Distillery 22 10 6 6 36
8. Dungannon 22 10 3 9 33
9. BALLYMENA UTD 22 8 5 9 29
10. Limavady Utd 22 7 4 11 25
11. Armagh City 22 7 1 14 22
12. Newry 22 5 6 11 21
13. Glenavon 22 4 7 11 19
14. Donegal Celtic 22 3 9 10 18
15. Larne 21 4 2 15 14
16. Loughgall 22 0 6 16 6