2 - 1
League (First Division)
Mark Dickson (81)
Mark Parker (90)
Oran Kearney (53)
Mark Parker for Robert Moore (77)
Gary Wray for Neil Candlish (90)
John O'Loughlin for Trevor McMullan (83)
Paul Evans for Trevor McLernon (83)
John McDowell for Peter Withnell (88)
Gareth Murray (53)
Neil Candlish (85)
David Best (Carnmoney) (Referee)
BALLYMENA United's chances of landing the Irish League first division title suffered another massive blow when they lost 2-1 to Larne at Inver Park on Saturday.
An injury time goal by Larne sub Mark Parker settled a poor game and condemned United to a second successive league defeat after the previous week's heart-breaker at Dungannon.
The Tyrone side's victory against Bangor means that United now trail their title rivals by four points with only two games left and even victories in those games don't look as if they'll be enough to give Ballymena the first division title for the second time.
The opening minutes at Inver Park gave an impression - false as it turned out - that a big crowd was in for a treat with Shea Campbell lobbing an effort narrowly wide and Larne's Mark Dickson seeing a 'goal' ruled out for offside within the opening five minutes.
From there, however, the game turned into a turgid scrap with the better chances falling to the home side, only to be put off target.
Ballymena enjoyed a better spell in the closing minutes of the half with Peter Withnell twice forcing Larne keeper Andy McDonald to make smart stops.
The game exploded in controversy eight minutes into the second half as Ballymena took the lead.
A swift United break saw Trevor McMullan send Oran Kearney clear and the midfielder lobbed the ball over McDonald only for back-tracking defender Alan Murphy to somehow clear the ball off the goal-line.
Ballymena protested that the ball had crossed the line and referee David Best consulted with his assistant before pointing to the centre circle.
The setback spurred on the home side, though, and United keeper Robert Robinson had to be at his best to keep out a Dickson effort before Larne grabbed an equaliser with nine minutes left.
Emmanuel Maxwell's cross into the penalty area was only half-cleared by Gareth Kearney and Dickson volleyed home from 12 yards.
And worse was to follow for United in stoppage time when Gareth Murray's long pass split the Ballymena defence for Parker to race clear and slot the ball past Robinson.
A late sickener and one which will almost certainly ensure another trophyless season at the Showgrounds.
Match report written by Official Ballymena United website
|Robert Robinson (GK)||27||13||-||13||-|
|John McDowell (sub)||24||14||3||148||9|
|John O'Loughlin (sub)||24||31||6||81||9|
|Paul Evans (sub)||28||11||2||11||2|