Larne 2
Ballymena United 1
League (First Division)


2 - 1

Ballymena United

League (First Division)
Saturday, April 12th, 2003
Inver Park
3:00 PM Kick-off

Mark Dickson (81)
Mark Parker (90)
Oran Kearney (53)

Team Managers
Unknown. Kenny Shiels

Starting Eleven
Andrew McDonald
John McKinstry
Emmanuel Maxwell
James McDonagh
Alan Murphy
Gareth Murray
Robert Moore
Tommy McDonald
Mark Craig
Neil Candlish
Mark Dickson
Robert Robinson
Mark Carlisle
Nigel Boyd
Gareth Kearney
Paul Byrne
Trevor McLernon
Trevor McMullan
Joe Gray
Oran Kearney
Shea Campbell
Peter Withnell

Mark Parker
Phil McDonagh
Gary Wray
John McDowell
John O'Loughlin
Paul Evans

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)

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

David Best (Carnmoney) (Referee)

Match Report

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

Squad Statistics (as at April 12th, 2003)

2002-2003 All Time
Robert Robinson (GK)27 13 - 13 -
Gareth Kearney25 30 - 30 -
Mark Carlisle34 34 - 4342
Nigel Boyd29 27227120
Paul Byrne39 283495
Trevor McMullan37 422869
Oran Kearney24 41164116
Trevor McLernon22 4188415
Joe Gray22 334334
Shea Campbell21 42379653
Peter Withnell35 33246340
John McDowell (sub)24 1431489
Paul Evans (sub)28 112112
John O'Loughlin (sub)24 316819

League Table (as at April 12th, 2003)

Pld W D L Pts
1. Dungannon 25 16 6 3 54
2. BALLYMENA UTD 25 16 5 4 53
3. Limavady Utd 25 13 4 8 43
4. Larne 25 11 3 11 36
5. Bangor 24 11 3 10 36
6. Carrick 25 7 3 15 24
7. Armagh City 24 4 6 14 18
8. Ballyclare Com. 25 5 2 18 17