Match Report: Ballynahinch United 2 v 2 Temple Rangers (Temple won 3-1 on pens)

Clarence Cup Round 1 – view photos.

This much awaited Clarence Cup tie which had been postponed three times since it was originally scheduled for Saturday 22 December took place at Millbridge on Saturday. The large attendance was one of the biggest turn outs at a local match for some considerable time and was evidence if any was needed at the popularity of the local game and particularly in a derby setting.

United went into this game seriously depleted missing no less than six first team regulars – Adam Herron, David Boal and Johnny Hunter [Suspended], Alan Patterson [Injured] and Scot Brashaw and Jay Smyth [Unavailable]. While this certainly stretched United’s squad it gave manager Colin Murray the chance to bring in some of the clubs youthful talent with Greg Allison stepping up from the Swifts and the surprise inclusion of Paul King who is an Albion regular.

From the kick off United were on the attack and after nine minutes they went into the lead when some excellent approach play resulted in Aaron Cheevers crossing onto the edge of the six yard box and Ian Boal slotted the ball into the net past Alistair Coburn.

Despite this advantage United just did not press on and rarely troubled the Temple defence despite winning quite a few corners.

In the second half Temple Rangers came out strongly and generally dominated play however United’s defence was well marshalled by Hayes, Carlisle and Foster with Brian McMullan having little to do.

Temple equalised on the hour mark which really lit the game up because whilst they were getting plenty of possession they were not really doing that much with it. The goal came from a long throw with McDowell sliding the ball into the path of defender who scored from the edge of the penalty area with a scorching drive.

Minutes later they were 2-1 up when a long ball into the United penalty area found its way into the net whether as an own goal or a header from substitute Lee Maxwell whatever the way of it he may not have known much about it.

United had a major problem at this stage and to their credit they rose to the occasion with the introduction of Bingham, Allison and King giving them fresh legs.

The equaliser came in the 87th minute when great work from Stuart McMullan on the left wing ended with a cross into the penalty area which the Temple defence failed to deal with and as the ball fell on the edge of the penalty area Paul King lashed it into the roof of the net for his first senior goal on his debut. In the closing seconds of the game United almost snatched the win when Gareth Bingham latched onto a loose ball and fired towards an unguarded goal from the edge of the area but his effort went narrowly wide.

The game went into two periods of extra time during which Temple lost their veteran keeper Alistair Coburn with a dislocated finger which meant that Paul Dickson had to take his place.

All too soon it was time for the penalty shoot-out which would provide as much excitement as what had gone before. Temple Rangers changed their goal keeper for the penalty shoot-out which proved a master stroke bringing in forward Adam McDowell in place of Paul Dickson.

First to take a penalty was Temple’s Matty Shaw and he blazed it high over the bar but United didn’t take advantage with David Kelly’s effort saved by McDowell. McDowell took the next one himself scoring past McMullan with precision. Scott McKibbin took United’s second penalty and he scored to bring the scores level. Brian McMullan got into the penalty saving act when he kept out Lee Maxwell’s effort. Stuart McMullan had the chance to put United in front but he saw his strike palmed round the post by McDowell. Temple substitute Johnny Dickson converted his effort confidently to make it 2-1. United’s Paul King needed to convert his to level the scores but he was thwarted by McDowell and it was left to Carberry to win the cup tie which he duly obliged with a confident strike to give McMullan no chance.

Disappointment for United who will wonder what might have been had they not have had so many senior players missing however on a positive note their depleted squad with so many youngsters in it never gave up and they could have won it in the dying minutes of normal time. Temple battled hard throughout and shaded the game on chances created but then again neither goal keeper was that seriously troubled in either normal or extra time.

Temple go on to meet Civil Service in the 2nd Round of the Clarence Cup a game they can certainly win.

Match Report: Coleraine 7 v 0 Ballynahinch United

Ever since the Irish 5th Round draw in mid December everyone at the Millbridge have been focused on the 12th January 2013 when they would have visited Danske Premiership team Coleraine. A score line of 7-0 while it is disappointing is no reflection of the experience that each and everyone associated with United enjoyed and that is exactly what they did.

At 10.30am the coach party containing the committee and players left Millbridge and after a short stop for breakfast in Cloughmills they arrived at the Coleraine Showgrounds.

Just before 3pm the two teams took to the field with United accompanied by a small army of youthful mascots. There was considerable excitement particularly amongst the visiting Ballynahinch United support which numbered in excess of 100 – an outstanding turnout for a small amateur club.

Very soon the referees whistle was blown and it was game on with United facing a full strength Coleraine such was the home teams determination to progress in this competition and not to be the victims of a giant killing.

From the outset Oran Kearney’s experienced team were on the attack spraying the ball across the pitch with precision. The most prominent player for the home team was Jamie Tomelty, a new signing from Portadown. For all their possession Coleraine never really caused United any serious problems with their defence of Boal, Bowman, Hayes, Brashaw and Herron working their socks off supported by midfielders Carlisle, Hunter, Stuart McMullan and Cheevers. Brian McMullan’s handling was superb while he made a number of excellent saves in the first half particularly one from Curtis Allen which took a wicked deflection of Hayes and as it dipped under the bar he palmed it over the cross bar.

United were not without their attacking opportunities with a Hunter free kick against the Coleraine defensive wall and a Stuart McMullan shot flashing across the face of goal. Lone forward Ian McMullan worked tirelessly up front and received a fair degree of physical attention from the experienced Coleraine central defensive pairing of Beverland and Ogilvy.

The half time whistle came and as both teams headed for the changing room United did so to a resounding chorus of cheers from their supporters while the Coleraine faithful were somewhat muted in their support fearing a potential upset might be on the cards.

The opening exchanges of the second half were much the same as the first however in the 51st minute everything changed when a delightful through ball was dummied by Allen and as it fell to his strike partner Harkin he placed it into Allen’s path which he slotted into the net out of the reach of McMullan’s outstretched hand.

In the 56th minute United found themselves 2-0 down and worse still a man down after Davy Boal was red carded for an off the ball tussle in the penalty area with McIlmoyle the Coleraine player escaping any punishment. Ruairi Harkin scored from the resulting penalty.

Manager Colin Murray introduced substitute Jay Smyth for the injured Ian McMullan but with a man down it was to be one way traffic. During the remainder of the game Scott McKibbin replaced JJ Carlisle and McCauley Foster came on for Adam Herron.

Heroic defensive displays by Hayes and Brashaw at the centre of a besieged United defence could not save the day even though Brian McMullan produced at least five world class saves.

In the 65th minute United had legitimate claims for a penalty when a shot appeared to come of a Coleraine defender’s hand but the referee waived away the claims.

Coleraine with the wind in their sails pressed home their superiority in every respect and they scored another five goals through Paul Owens, Stephen Lowry [2] the first of which was an absolute pile driver, another Ruairi Harkin penalty and Coleraine’s very own Stewart McMullan with his first ever competition goal.

While United were probably glad to hear the final whistle they nevertheless had given a good account of themselves and their efforts were recognised by their fans with a standing ovation from both home and visiting fans.

The Irish Cup adventure may be over but the important games are certainly not as they face local rivals Temple Rangers at the Millbridge in the first round of the Clarence Cup. The kick off is at 1.30pm.

Ballynahinch United 3 v 1 Bangor Rangers

United entertained Bangor Rangers in this league fixture at Millbridge on Saturday – a day that was somewhat over shadowed by the news that they had drawn Premier League side Coleraine in the 5th Round of the Irish Cup.

Right from the start United were on the front foot hemming Bangor Rangers back into their half as they probed down the right and left wings through the runs of Aaron Cheevers and Stuart McMullan. They took the lead just short of the half hour mark when Alan Patterson ran onto a Johnny Hunter through ball. The Bangor keeper raced off his line to challenge for the ball but it broke to Cheevers who calmly slotted it into the empty net from twenty yards.

United continued to probe but they conceded a goal against the run of play when a long right wing cross evaded everyone and fell to a Bangor forward who controlled the ball before slotting it into the net despite the efforts of Brian McMullan. Undeterred United pressed forward and following a goal mouth scramble Ian McMullan side footed the ball into the net.

In the second half United continued to control the game restricting Bangor Rangers to the odd excursion forward leaving Brian McMullan generally as a spectator.

The midfield of Bowman, Hunter, Patterson and Stuart McMullan were very strong moving the ball about with confidence while defensively Davy Boal, Ross Hayes, Adam Herron and Scott Brashaw all went about their tasks with efficiency.

Numerous openings were created to extend their lead but it was not until the 75th minute that they increased it when Patterson again surged forward and unleashed a shot which was brilliantly saved by the Bangor keeper however in doing so it cannoned off a defender and looped into the net.

The full substitute bench of Carlisle, McKibbin and Smyth had been introduced midway through the second half and they played their part with McKibbin out pacing the Bangor defence on a number of occasions and being very unlucky not to score.

An excellent result which keeps United in the top four of the Division 1B league table as they go into Christmas and this weekends big local derby with Temple Rangers in the Clarence Cup.