Ballynahinch United welcomed a familiar friendly face to The Millbridge in the form of John ‘Jonesy’ Jones, manager of the visiting, promotion chasing favourites, 18th Newtownabbey. But the match itself turned out to be far from friendly.
United, starting their first game without Glynn at the helm, began well and were on the front foot from the first whistle. Within minutes of kick off, Ballynahinch hit the inside of the post but the ball somehow never made it over the line, and the 18th ‘keeper clawed it gratefully to his chest.
Soon, a short back pass from an 18th Defender was intercepted by Ian McMullan who nipped in and attempted to break past the last defender but he was upended and the referee had no chance but to send the last man off for preventing a goal scoring opportunity. the resulting free kick from Stuart Fitzsimons was tipped round the post for a corner.
United continued to dominate the first half and soon made it count. Roy Shilliday was fouled in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Alex Burtney stepped up for the second week in a row and gave the home team the lead with an emphatically struck penalty. 1 – 0.
United continued their dominance and quickly doubled their lead. Roy on the right was instrumental again and his cross found forward Stuart Fitzsimons in the box. His cracking first time volley rifled into the net much to the glee of the home fans and the despair of Jonesy and his team.
United battled hard until the end of the half and finished the half 2 goals to the good, and a man up.
In the second half, 18th showed a different side to themselves and took control of the match with United sitting back soaking up the pressure.
Unfortunately they couldn’t hold on to their clean sheet and 18th pulled one back.
United were unable to find the rhythm they possessed in the first half and were bombarded by 18th for most of the second half – and bar the goal – defended well to prevent the equaliser.
The game turned nasty soon after when an 18th Newtownabbey was sent off for a bad tackled from behind on the evergreen Ben Wilson. The referee had no hesitation but to flash the Red Card and send Newtownabbey to 9 men.
However, as the referee dealt with the melee of the sending off, 18th’s forward punched United Club Captain Gary Murray off the ball in a cowardly brutal attack that left the defender sprawled on The Millbridge turf. An attack the club and player should be ashamed of.
Unfortunately the attack went unpunished as the referee had his back turned and didn’t see the punch – despite Gary being unable to continue due to the unnecessary, unprovoked violence. The offender offered some faux apologies after realising the damage he’d done.
Treatment to Gary meant plenty of time was added on, and having used all their subs, United were reduced to 10 men, against Newtownabbey’s 9 – which should have been 8.
United, kitted in yellow, battled on but the additional time accumulated from the attack gave Newtownabbey time to find an equaliser and soon had a chance to level the game.
Newtownabbey’s right winger threw himself to the ground with no contact – not for the first time throughout the day – and this time was able to con the referee into awarding a free kick wide on the right.
The resulting cross found an away team head which nestled in Stefan Graham’s net for the equaliser to break ‘Hinch hearts. There was barely time to restart the match and the referee called for Full Time. 2 – 2.
A spirited performance from United showed promising signs of improvement for the remainder of the season and a touch more luck would’ve seen all 3 points awarded to the Home Team. A disappointing end and a violent attacked marred an otherwise good performance.
Ballynahinch United 2 – 2 18th Newtownabbey
|Competition:||NAFL Div 1B|
Ballyvea FC 2 – 0 Ballynahinch Swifts
The Swifts travelled to Kilkeel to face Ballyvea in league action but were unable to come home with the points after a long trip.
|Competition:||NADAFL Div 1|