Ballynahinch United travelled to Clarendon Park to face a strong Woodvale side on Remembrance Saturday.
It was expected to be a tough battle for both sides and this turned out to be the case. It was a slow start from both teams, neither of which could take control in the early stages of the game.
As it went on, United managed to work hard down the right hand side with Greg Hall, Graeme McMullan, and Robbie Luring working well together.
Hall managed to get a cross in which was cleared to Robbie Luring who took his chance and nestled the ball into the back of the net to make put the visitors ahead.
That sparked some life into Ballynahinch who battled hard and began to make their mark on the game with some passing moves. It soon became end-to-end football with United working hard again to win the ball and create some chances.
It was not long until Woodvale got their foot on the ball and through some good play on their right hand side they found their way into the box where United’s defence was outnumbered and Woodvale were able to draw level.
United responded strong and quick to Woodvale’s equaliser. Almost straight from the restart, a high ball was aimed to McMullan who flicked it into Robbie Luring path. After winning the ball and holding off Woodvale’s left back, Robbie pulled it back to Graeme who’s cross found its way to Naseem Ouldhamat who put the ball away to make it 2-1 to United.
The Sky Blue defence of Hall, Ethan Majury, Scott Brashaw, and Sam Luring held on as Woodvale began to increase momentum with each attack. However, a quick, well worked move down the Ballynahinch right-hand side saw Woodvale create a mirrored version of their first goal resulting in the equaliser.
As the second half began, Ballynahinch found themselves slow to start, calling upon Stefan in nets to make some solid saves.
A dip in concentration saw United carelessly give the ball away in their own box resulting in a coming together and a penalty awarded.
Woodvale slotted it home to make it 3-2 to the home side.
As the second half went on, United’s midfield of Gavin Crawford, David Kelly and Chris Coleman fought hard and managed to get a hold of the ball with United starting to look livelier again.
Subsitute Stuart McMullan almost made an immediate impact nearly finishing off a counter attacking move.
However, it wasn’t to be United’s day as Woodvale held firm and took the three points.
Apache Pizza Ballynahinch Player of the Match: David Kelly
Line Up: Stefan Graham [C], Greg Hall, Sam Lurring, Scott Brashaw, Ethan Majury Stuart McMullan, Chris Coleman (Cameron McKissick), Naseem Ouldhamlat (Stuart McMullan), David Kelly, Graeme McMullan (Glenn Bennett), Gavin Crawford, Robbie Lurring.
Ballyvea III 3 – 3 B United Swifts
The Swifts started the game strongly, creating a number of shooting opportunities in the opening minutes but were unable to trouble the home goalkeeper.
The defence of Stephen McNair, Jamie McNeil, John McMenamin and Ryan Rooney were keeping the home side at bay and anything that did get through was snuffed out by Michael Vladenau in nets.
The midfield of Gareth Bingham, Keith Hamilton and Patrick Harkin were seeing plenty of the ball but space was a premium on the tight pitch.
Wide men Liam Rodgers and Luke Craig were getting some joy down the wings with John Stevenson a threat up front.
It was a ball down the right that would lead to the opening goal when a defender handled the ball in the box under pressure from Stevenson and Craig.
Up stepped Mr Reliable, Gareth Bingham, to fire the resulting penalty into the bottom corner to give Ballynahinch the lead.
Hinch were in confident mood and causing the home defence trouble with Stevenson and Harkin pressing well.
A great through ball from Harkin was picked up by Stevenson. He rounded the keeper and slotted home only for the referee to disallow for offside.
A lapse in the away defence allowed Ballyvea to equalise when a cross from the right saw the striker get there first to bundle the ball home.
Undeterred, The Swifts attacked again and it wasn’t long before they were back in front. A free kick from the right hand side was floated in by Hamilton and when it was headed clear it fell to Bingham on edge of box. He took a touch past one defender before firing home from the edge of the box in off the post to restore the lead.
In the second half Ballyvea started to apply more pressure but Hinch were finding joy on the counter. It was from one such counter that they extended their lead with Stevenson latching onto a long ball and after outpacing the defence he was able to slot the ball home for 3-1.
Ballynahinch had further chances to extend the lead but Ballyvea’s ‘keeper made good saves from a Bingham header and a Harkin shot.
Ballyvea began to apply more pressure and were back in the game when their centre back picked up a loose ball and fired brilliantly into the bottom corner from edge of box giving Vladenau no chance.
Moments later they would equalise with a free kick being headed home from the back post.
Ballyvea were in the ascendancy and started to apply more and more pressure but the defence held strong despite losing McMenamin to injury to be replaced by Lindsay.
There was still time for one more chance but United were unable to apply the finishing touch with the referee blowing full time. A draw probably a fair result in the end.
Apache Pizza Ballynahinch Player of the Match: Gareth Bingham
Line Up: Michael Vladeanu, Ryan Rooney, Stephen McNair, Jamie McNeill, John McMenamin [C] (Matthew Lindsay), Keith Hamilton, Luke Craig, Gareth Bingham, John Stevenson, Patrick Harkin, Liam Rodgers.
Unused sub: Kian Connolly