United travelled to East Belfast for this league encounter against Bloomfield at Orangefield velodrome which is the only cycling facility of its type in Northern Ireland.
From early on in the game United took control and spent most of the first half camped in the Bloomfield half however they failed to bring the home goal keeper into any serious action. The same could not be said for Unitedâ€™s Brian McMullan who whilst spending most of the afternoon spectating pulled off one of his best saves this season which played a major role in his teamâ€™s success. In the 43rd minute Bloomfield broke clear on the right wing and their centre forward raced onto the edge of the six yard box to receive a great pass from his team mate. Just as he was about to shoot into the net defender Ethan Majury managed to block the shot but it was still heading into the goal until Brian McMullan dived to palm it around the post for a corner.
In the second half United came out full of purpose andÂ were ahead in the 50th minute when Stuart McMullan was released on the right wing following interplay between Dalton Tate and Gavin Crawford. He cut into the penalty area and toe poked the ball into the net past the advancing keeper. Having controlled the game up to this stage United seemed to lose their composure and it took some solid defending from the back line of Majury, Hayes, Boal, Brashaw and Herron to stem a steady stream of Bloomfield attacks. In the 65th minute Bloomfield were reduced to ten players when their No. 5 was dismissed for a second yellow card which could easily have been a straight red following a rather nasty tackle.
At this stage United were enjoying much more possession and in the 70th minute they were 2 – 0 up when Aaron â€˜Beattieâ€™ McCaffrey got on the end of a cross to score into the roof of the net off the keeper. â€˜Beattieâ€™ who has been an ever present in the team following some excellent seasons with the Swifts has been a hard working partner to Ian McMullan however the goals just didnâ€™t seem to go in for him so was this was a well-deserved success.
For the closing quarter manager Keith Hamilton replaced his forward line with Gareth McMullan and Greg Allison and they provided a constant threat with Gareth McMullanâ€™s first touch, a lob shot from ten yards, drifting over the crossbar while Greg Allison had a few long range shots which went narrowly wide.
This was another good team performance with every player contributing to a well-earned three points which take United into 3rd place however this Saturday they will have to be at their best to take on an improving Sirocco Works side that after a poor start to the season have been picking up points in recent weeks. The game kicks off at 2pm at Millbridge.
United travelled to New Grosvenor last Tuesday night for the second of the seasonâ€™s two midweek games against a strong Sirocco Works team who had like their opponents not found that winning formula after three league games.
The early exchanges were even with Sirocco enjoying the advantage of a strong wind while Unitedâ€™s slick passing enabled them to gain valuable attacking opportunities. United suffered the loss of forward Gareth McMullan with a hamstring injury after twenty minutes. Sirocco created a few chances which Brian McMullan dealt with well while at the other end the Sirocco keeper pulled off an outstanding goal line clearance from a shot by David Kelly. On the half hour mark as United pressed up field they were caught out by a long ball which left the Sirocco centre forward free to run through and slip the ball past Brian McMullan. This was a blow for United however they were not to be behind for long as after a few unproductive attacks Dalton Tate released Stuart McMullan on the right wing and he slipped the ball to David Kelly who centred for Gavin Crawford to head superbly into the net.
In the second half United had the advantage of the wind and they varied their tactics with more use of the longer diagonal ball which caused the Sirocco defence lots of problems. Time and again Stuart McMullan and Aaron McCaffrey beat the offside to create openings.
In the 50th minute following excellent work on the right wing by Craig Bowman found David Kelly who created an opening for Scott Brashaw to run into the penalty area and unleash a shot that went in off the post to give United the lead.
This was a lead that United were determined to hold onto and this was epitomised throughout the team. In defence Paul Dickson rose to clear a barrage of long balls while his defensive colleagues Davy Boal, Craig Bowman and Craig McMullan repelled attacks all along their back line. Brian McMullan who was rarely troubled still handled superbly when called upon. In midfield Kelly, Tate, Brashaw and Crawford worked their socks off while Stuart McMullan and McCaffrey provided an excellent first line of defence as they harried the Sirocco defenders at every opportunity.
Despite holding the lead things remained tense until the 80th minute when United got their third goal which always looked as if it would come. Once again it was pressure on the right wing that created the opening and when McCaffrey latched onto the ball in the penalty area he cleverly side footed it to David Kelly who thumped it into the roof of the net.
Sirocco pushed hard in the closing minutes to get back into the game but United remained steadfast to hold on to the valuable three points they had worked so hard for. Gareth Bingham replaced the hard working McCaffrey in the forward line and like all his team mates he put in a valuable shift.
This result is a just reward for some decent performances by United in these opening league matches of the season. Over the next three weeks they face Lisburn Rangers, East Belfast and Killyleagh in cup matches.
United got their 2014/15 season underway with a nail biting 1 â€“ 1 draw at the Millbridge.
It was nail biting purely from the perspective that the team and their supporters had to wait until the 92nd minute for their equaliser as the visitors had taken the lead in the 75th minute against the run of play.
United began the day quite purposeful with Gavin Crawford and Stuart McMullan in attacking roles with Craig Bowman, Dalton Tate, David Kelly, Paul Dickson and Adam Herron working tirelessly in midfield. Scoring opportunities proved rare but Paul Dickson went close on a couple of occasions almost flicking the ball into the net from a Tate freekick and then driving a shot narrowly wide just before half time.
The second half was pretty much played out in the centre of the field with very few scoring opportunities however Wellington Recreation who had a few experienced campaigners in their ranks took the lead when a United attack broke up and the ball found their right winger. He passed it into the path of their centre forward who seemed to take the ball to close to the bye line however he managed to squeeze the ball into the net passed a surprised Brian McMullan.
Scot Brashaw moved into central midfield and with JJ Carlisle, Gareth McMullan and Aaron McCaffrey introduced into the fray United pressed for the equaliser. This left United a little vulnerable at the back and Brian McMullan had to come to the teams rescue with a fine save.
As the game went into injury time and the refereeâ€™s book was filling up with the names of Wellington players generally for time wasting and kicking the ball away tactics United won a corner. Up came keeper Brian McMullan and as the ball was floated into the area it was headed downward and McCaffrey got a touch to send the ball into the net. Moments later the same player almost gave United all three points when David Kelly sent him free on goal but his low shot was cleared by the Wellington keeper.
At the end of the day neither team really deserved all three points so a share of the spoils was about right. The two teams meet again next Saturday in Larne.
Saturday 3rd of May saw Ballynahinch United hold their annual dinner and presentation of awards in the Primrose Bar, Ballynahinch. As usual there were a large number of committee, players and supporters in attendance.
Following a very enjoyable meal which was to the usual high standards of the Primrose Bar the Club Chairman Gilbert Cromie officially welcomed everyone. Summarising the past year the Chairman expressed his sadness that the Clubâ€™s Third team â€˜Albionâ€™ had to withdraw from the league due to a shortage of players and it was his hope that it would be restored once again next season. He made particular mention of the outstanding work of the management teams of Keith Hamilton, Colin Murray, Davy Teggarty, Johnny McGreevy and Paul Allison and he paid tribute to the commitment of the players both at training and on the field of play.
He highlighted the vital work of the club officers and committee and very importantly the faithful supporters and sponsors who make such an important contribution. Special mention was made of the long-time contributions of senior club members Jimmy Brown and Winston Brown for all the hours they put in maintaining the facilities and faithful supporters Billy Hamilton and his wife Sally who never miss a home or most away matches with Sally providing sandwiches for all home fixtures which is much appreciated.
Turning to the club awards the Chairman congratulated and made a presentation to first team goalkeeper Bryan McMullan who has been included in the Northern Amateur League squad for the amateur International against their Scottish counterparts which took place at Killyleagh on Saturday 10th May.
The Chairman then invited the management teams to come forward and present the awards for the 2013/14 season which were as follows:
Playerâ€™s Player â€“ Aaron McCaffrey and Alan Massey [shared]
Managers Player â€“ Shaun Bonner
Leading Scorer â€“ Aaron McCaffrey
Playerâ€™s Player â€“ Scott Brashaw
Managers Player â€“ Scott Brashaw
Leading Scorer â€“ Ian McMullan
Club Young Player of the Year â€“ JJ Carlisle
A signed shirt was presented to the first team attendant Steven Jess who is standing down from the role due to family commitments although he will remain on the committee.
The very popular and much sought after Golden Boot award was introduced by club stalwart Wilson Hamilton and through numerous comic moments and false trails to both hint but keep the audience and recipient guessing to the last possible moment the winner was announced as Ross Hayes to rapturous applause.
The Swifts welcomed Tollymore 2nds to Millbridge for this league encounter and the home side secured a valuable three points against a dogged team who scrapped throughout. Fielding only ten men in the opening half hour, Tollymore found themselves 2-0 down. The first goal came on twelve minutes through a converted penalty from Aaron McCaffrey following a hand ball in the penalty area. The second goal came on the half hour when teenager Graeme McMullan poked the ball home following a goal mouth scramble.
Tollymore were up to full strength after this and they came more into the game but the Swifts defence of Ross Bingham, Scott McNeill, Paul King and Shaun Bonner were able to hold firm to give keeper Johnny McGreevy a fairly easy afternoon.
The Swifts midfield quartet of Alan Massey, Gareth Bingham, Matthew Manley, Graeme McMullan and in the closing stages Stuart Wilcox saw plenty of the ball but failed to create opportunities for forwards Johnny Stevenson, until he came off injured, and Aaron McCaffrey who both worked hard.
The introduction of Jack Patterson before half time gave the Swifts a real impetus as the young player with pace to burn stretched the Tollymore defence. The Swifts third goal came midway through the second half when Patterson won a race for a loose ball and he flicked it past the on rushing keeper and into the net.