Match report: B United 2 – 2 Suffolk

Ballynahinch United returned to The Millbridge for the first time since the end of September following a series of flooding and work to the pitch and car park.

Ballynahinch started brighter than their opposition and dominated possession in the first half against a defensive, well-structured Suffolk side. United had all of the ball in the opening stages, trying to break the lines of the away team’s set-up. Stuart McMullan controlled possession feeding Sam and Robbie Lurring on the left, producing some good opportunities, but the final ball evaded the Blue’s attackers for the decisive touch. 

United stayed resolute defensively, keen not to be caught by Suffolk’s quick counterattack. 

On the stroke of half-time, United finally broke the deadlock, the Lurring’s combined again and a dangerous ball across the box finally found it’s way off the post to Graeme McMullan to poke in from a generous yard out.

In the second half, Ballynahinch maintained the domination of possession but couldn’t find the rhythm of the first half allowing Suffolk the chance for some decent opportunities.  

Suffolk soon made their counterattack count, equalising after an hour from a quick breakaway.  

After a slow start to the second half, United picked up the pace again, producing better football but not threatening Suffolk too much who were still dangerous on the counterattack.  

Finally, United made their possession count once again, when Sam Lurring scrambled home at the back post in the 89th minute.  

It should have been the winner, but Suffolk forced their way into the box in the final moments and were awarded a penalty, which was converted for a second equaliser. 

United were disappointed with the point after being on top for large parts of the game. 

Player of the Match: Stuart McMullan

Line up: Stefan Graham [C], Greg Hall, Sam Lurring, Jamie McNeill, Ethan Majury (Graeme McMullan), Stuart McMullan, Thomas Rodgers, David Kelly, Naseem Ouldhamlat, Gavin Crawford, Robbie Lurring.

Unused subs: Luke Craig, Patrick Harkin

Kilmore Rec Rovers 4 – 2 B United Swifts

The Swifts travelled to Cedar Playing Fields in Crossgar, with a depleted side due to injuries and unavailability, to take on a Kilmore side sitting 3rd in the league.

But the away side started strongly and had the better of the early exchanges, creating a couple of half chances through veterans Glenn Bennett and John Stevenson.

Kilmore grew into the game and started to apply pressure to the Swifts’ defence of Tate, Hamilton, McNair and Rooney, forcing keeper Michael Vladenau to make some good saves.

Kilmore took the lead halfway through the first half when Ballynahinch failed to close down in midfield and a cross from the right found an unmarked striker to head home.

United struggled to maintain possession at this point with an experienced Kilmore side on the ascendancy. They caught Ballynahinch cold with their pace down the wings and added two more goals before the half.

However, on the stroke of half-time the Swifts got back into the game. After good work from Stevenson and then Cameron Mckissick, a cross from the latter on the right was only half cleared. Matthew Lindsay was able to pick up the loose ball and his pinpoint cross was headed home by Glenn Bennett.

This gave the Swifts a lift and their performance was much better in the second period.

Despite the lift, they still had to defend strongly at times with Vladenau putting in another Man of the Match display in goal, assisted with some last ditch defending and a couple of incredible goal line clearances from Stephen McNair.

Despite United’s best efforts, Kilmore added a 4th but to the Ballynahinch’s credit, they continued to push to get back into the game and were eventually rewarded for their persistence late on when teenager Ethan Perkins, stepping up from Ballynahinch Youth under 16s, was introduced. His cross-come-shot was slotted home at the back post by Mckisssick.

Unfortunately, it was too little, too late as the referee’s final whistle went moments later.

Player of the Match: Michael Vladeanu

Line up: Michael Vladeanu, Ryan Rooney, Stephen McNair, Matthew Tate, Keith Hamilton, John Stevenson [C], Cameron McKissick, Gareth Bingham, Kian Connolly (Ethan Perkins), Matthew Lindsay, Glenn Bennett