Sports Direct Premiership: Matchday 13

Ballymena United 3 - 1 Coleraine
21 Oct 2023 - 15:00Ballymena Showgrounds

THE 10 men of Coleraine fell to a 3-1 defeat to Ballymena United on Warden Street in the second derby match of the season…

By: Charlie Cooke

Oran Kearney made three changes to the Bannsiders starting eleven from Friday’s win over Newry which saw Jamie Glackin return from injury to replace Jack O’Mahony in the midfield, Kieran Farren replaced Jake Wallace and Graham Kelly was also included in the back four for the injured Darren Cole.

With three minutes on the clock, Andy Scott cut in from the wing and passed the ball to Conor McKendry who saw his shot from outside the penalty area saved by Sean O’Neill.

Two minutes later, Jamie Glackin pounced on a poor pass from Fraser Taylor across the defence. The midfielder ran through the Sky Blues defence and found himself one-on-one with O’Neill but he couldn’t find the target.

Soon after, Matthew Shevlin showed great strength to find McKendry but his effort from an acute angle went harmlessly over the crossbar.

With 17 minutes on the clock, Dean Jarvis and Scott combined on the left wing, Dean charged down the wing and cut the ball back to Andy who saw his shot arc over the woodwork.

Just past the hour mark, the Bannsiders would be dealt with a serious blow after Shevlin was dismissed for a straight red card. The striker aimed to reach Glackin’s cross with his foot but followed through and made contact with O’Neill and was therefore sent off for dangerous play.

Despite being a man down, Coleraine would carve out the final two opportunities of the first-half as Dean Jarvis had a long range shot palmed away by O’Neill, before Glackin’s cross was headed over the crossbar by Scott.

A minute after the restart, Glackin almost caught the Sky Blues sleeping after receiving the ball from McKendry’s lay-off but his curling attempt failed to test O’Neill.

However, Ballymena would make the breakthrough from the resulting attack through Noah Stewart. The Stripes failed to clear their lines which allowed Taylor to pick out the striker and he slid the ball into the far corner beyond Deane.

On 53 minutes, Stewart added a second as a defensive mix-up initially saw Isaac Westendorf being denied by Deane. However, the ball was quickly recycled back to Stewart who arrowed yet another fantastic finish into the bottom corner.

After Josh Carson had a strike from distance saved, Kearney’s men were given a lifeline after being awarded a penalty as Glackin was fouled by Scot Whiteside. A confident Carson would take the spot kick which he rifled home for his third goal of the campaign.

With a quarter of an hour remaining, a set-piece wasn’t cleared by the Sky Blues and this allowed Dean Jarvis to pick out Glackin who saw hit shot saved by the fingertips of O’Neill, however a goal kick was given by the officials.

As Davy McDaid and Jack O’Mahony were introduced from the bench, McKendry would try to find the scoresheet on his birthday but his next attempt from 25 yards was dragged a couple of yards wide of the post. With 86 minutes played, Carson hit a well-executed shot on the half volley from just outside the box which forced O’Neill into a save.

However, the last action of the game saw substitute Alex Gawne make the scoreline 3-1 to the Sky Blues as he rifled into the top corner to put the game beyond doubt.

After a disappointing result we as supporters need to get behind the lads again as we face a tough test in the form of Cliftonville at The Showgrounds next Saturday in the Sports Direct Premiership.

BALLYMENA UNITED: O’Neill, Nelson, Whiteside, McCullough, Taylor (O’Boyle ’90 mins), McGrory (Waide ‘88 mins), Tennant, Boyle, Place (Rocks ‘60 mins), Stewart (Gawne ‘88 mins), Westendorf (McGuigan ‘90 mins)

Subs Not Used: Johnston (GK), Murray.

COLERAINE: Deane, Kane, D. Jarvis, Kelly, McKendry, Shevlin, Carson, Farren (O’Mahony ‘76 mins), Lynch (McDaid ‘76 mins), Glackin, Scott (Mitchell ‘86 mins).

Subs Not Used: Gallagher (GK), A. Jarvis, Wallace, Harkin.

Referee: Lee Tavinder