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Danske Bank Premiership

Ards 2 Ballymena United 4


A succession of errors contrived to hand Ballymena the three points at Bangor Fuels Arena today as they got the better of us for the first time this season.

The Sky Blues got revenge for their loss in the quarter final of the County Antrim Shield 11 days ago and at the same moved up into joint second in the Premiership table as we were left to reflect on a particularly bad day at the office.

Within the first minute Ballymena had showed their effectiveness in the danger area as Jonny McMurray snuck in behind the defence to get off a shot that Aaron Hogg had to be alert to beat away.

There were few chances for either team after that, until Ards’ Joe McKinney got the better of his man on 29 minutes to release a shot that goalkeeper Ross Glendinning stopped with his trailing leg.

The first half had been a tight battle, with Ballymena working the Ards defence hard and for the most part, we soaked up the pressure well but the awarding of the penalty for Ballymena’s opening goal on 35 minutes, the first cracks in the home backline began to show. Cathair Friel’s turn of pace high up on the left of the field drew a misguided challenge from Fra Brennan, who caught the midfielder from behind just as he entered the area. Referee Hetherington was in no doubt and up stepped Tony Kane to fire in the spot kick.

Ards had barely time to regroup before United grabbed their second. Even more serious questions could be asked about the defending for Friel’s own goal on 38 minutes as he found himself in clear space right on the goal line to tap in a well placed cross from McMurray.

Four minutes into the new half and Ards appeared to have steadied the ship when we got a goal back through David McAllister. The winger showed great durability as he battled through a packed penalty area to send the ball past Glendinning and reduce the deficit.

The joy for Niall Currie’s team was short lived though as Ballymena restored their two goal cushion just two minutes later. Ards defender Johnny Taylor was the man who could ultimately be credited with the assist as his sloppy header back towards goal fell well short of reaching Aaron Hogg and Friel was able to nip in and head the ball over the blameless goalkeeper.

The Ards stopper was very much to the fore though on 69 minutes when he raced bravely off his line to shut down an attack from McMurray, who had looked odds on to add to the score.

On 77 minutes what looked like Ards’ best chance for some time saw substitute Carl McComb knock the ball back from the byeline for Jamie Douglas, who would be just off target with a clever backheel.

Ballymena would put the result beyond doubt with a fourth goal on 84 minutes. Jenkins’ long pass out of his own half sent Friel well clear of the Ards defence to run in one-on-one against Hogg and the hat-trick was completed as the league’s top scorer pushed the ball around the keeper to finish off in front of his own fans.

Late on in added time, Ards pulled a goal back when Craig McMillen bent the ball just inside Glendinning’s left hand post but it was too little too late to deflect fans’ frustrations at the end of a disappointing day.

5th November 2016


18 Aaron Hogg, 38 Fra Brennan, 25 Emmet Friars (capt.), 5 Johnny Taylor, 3 Michael Ruddy, 6 David McCullough, 16 Gareth Tommons, 7 Craig McMillen, 10 Joe McKinney, 11 David McAllister, 40 Jamie Douglas


2 Greg Hall, 4 Stuart McMullan, 9 Gary Liggett (for Tommons 71), 17 Carl McComb (for McAllister 69), 20 Kyle Cherry (for Brennan h/t)


Raymond Hetherington


McAllister (49), McMillen (90+2)


McMillen (57), Friars (81)



Match highlights (BBC Sport NI)

Craig McMillen and Willie Faulkner in battle during today’s match
Picture: Gareth McCluskey
David McCullough is presented with the Ards man of the match award by Ivor Edgar, on behalf of our match sponsors
Martin Phillips Carpets
Picture: Andrew McCullough