Match Report: Ballynahinch United 0 v 2 Ballynahinch Olympic

Goals in each half from Stephen Megoran and Niall Walsh secured three points and the bragging rights in the early part of the season from this exciting derby game at the Millbridge last Saturday.

United in their new kit which was generously sponsored by BEC Electrical. The players and committee of BUFC are very appreciative of the continuing support BEC have given season after season by supplying new strips.
United in their new kit which was generously sponsored by BEC Electrical. The players and committee of BUFC are very appreciative of the continuing support BEC have given season after season by supplying new strips.

Millbridge was packed by supporters from both sides each keen to encourage their side on to victory and in the early exchanges it was the home team who did most of the attacking with Johnny Stevenson going close in the opening minutes. Greg Allison caused the Olympic defence considerable trouble in the early stages of the game putting in a succession of crosses that lead to several corners one of which led to a Matty Shaw header being cleared off the goal line.

Olympic took the lead after ten minutes when Megoran’s left wing cross from thirty odd yards looped high over United keeper Bryan McMullan to drop under the cross bar into the net. This was a very lucky break for the visitors which gave them an advantage in the game which they worked tirelessly to hold onto. It was a cruel blow to United’s defence of Alex Miller, Davy Boal, Matty Shaw and Stuart McMullan who had restricted Olympics’ forward threat.

On the half hour mark United had a genuine claim for a penalty when Alan Patterson was bundled over from behind in the act of shooting for goal however referee Mark Domican did not share the United supporter’s opinion.

In the second half United pressed for an equaliser with Dalton Tate, Stuart Hunter and JJ Carlisle prominent however Olympic worked tirelessly to reduce the number of scoring opportunities with their keeper in superb form.

Olympic got their second midway through the second half when Niall Walsh rose above the United defence to head home a superb right wing cross past Bryan McMullan. They could well have been three up when they missed a penalty after Boal, who was sent off for a second bookable offence, had brought down an attacker however the spot kick came back off the crossbar.

United introduced Gareth McMullan and Dee Stewart to the fray and they combined very well when Stewarts shot was headed goal wards by McMullan only for the Olympic keeper to miraculously palm it over the bar.

This was an encouraging start from Olympic who have high hopes for the season ahead while the United supporters will have been encouraged by a battling performance from a team that was missing six players through injury.

United now have a succession of away games against Rathfern Rangers [last night], Ballywalter [Saturday] and next week against opponents who have to be confirmed before they meet Valley Rangers in the Irish Cup on Saturday 22nd August.

Match Report: Ballynahinch United 2 v 2 Rathfern Rangers

Goalkeeper Bryan McMullan has often provided that vital last line of defence for United over the last number of seasons pulling of countless last gasp or point blank saves but last Saturday, and not for the first time either, he scored the equaliser to secure his team a valuable point.

The game started very badly for United as they conceded a goal in the first few minutes from a long throw which was flicked into the path of a Rathfern forward who volleyed the ball first time past Bryan McMullan. For the remainder of the half it was United on the attack with Paul Dickson and Aaron McCaffrey going close with a header and shot respectively as Adam Herron, Dalton Tate and Stuart McMullan combined consistently down the left wing to provide a series of half chances and force corner after corner.

Rathfern, for their part, were dangerous on the break and on more than one occasion Ross Hayes or Davy Boal had to be at their very best to stop the swift breaks while Bryan McMullan pulled off a few important saves.

Ethan Majury was moved into a more forward position for this game and was a willing runner in the absence of the injured Ian McMullan and his chasing down of defenders along with Gavin Crawford and McCaffrey caused the visitors some very uncomfortable moments.

The equaliser came five minutes from half time when Davy Boal fired in a shot from the right hand side of the penalty area which nestled in the side of the net having taken a deflection.

In the second half United started brightly but appeared to lose momentum and for long periods of the second half found themselves defending breakaways which required some solid defending from Hayes, Herron and an outstanding last ditch tackle from Dickson to save a certain goal. That combined with a close penalty shout made it almost inevitable that they would concede. That was the case in the 70th minute when a Rathfern forward broke through and scored although there was a hint of offside about it.

United were now up against it but they rallied with Scott Brashaw providing the leadership from midfield but Rathfern were not about to surrender their lead as they defended stoutly. The best chance fell to Tate who shot wide from close to the penalty spot. Greg Allison, a half time substitute, David Kelly and Gareth McMullan provided a more attacking focus with a string of free kicks being secured but none could be utilised to great effect.

The game was entering its final minute when United won a corner and up came goalkeeper Bryan McMullan to get on the end of cousin Stuart’s cross and head a superb equaliser.

This was not one of United’s better performances however they proved yet again that they have grit and determination. Next week they entertain local rivals Dromara Village in a Clarence Cup tie which has a 1.30pm kick off.

Match Report: Ballynahinch United 1 v 2 New Buildings [after extra time]

A packed Millbridge was treated to a real hum dinger of a cup tie at this 1st Round Intermediate Cup game.

In the early part of the match it was United who had the better of the exchanges however they were disrupted by the loss of midfielder David Kelly after only ten minutes with a dead leg sustained in the very first challenge. They should have been ahead too but Gareth McMullan and Greg Allison failed to capitalise on the openings created. As the first half progressed the visitors enjoyed a greater share of the possession and lone forward Matty Smith was proving hard to handle for defenders Boal, Hayes, Herron and Majury. It was Smith who opened the scoring for New Buildings when a misplaced pass was intercepted and a quick through ball saw the forward close in on Brian McMullan who made a valiant effort to save his shot but to no avail.

In the second half United had the strong wind in their backs and gradually as the half progressed they took control of the game creating quite a few openings. Dalton Tate who had been relatively quiet in the first half moved further forward and he got on the end of Gavin Crawford cross to volley a shot goal ward only to see the keeper get a fingertip to it and see it cannon off the crossbar. In the 60 minute United were level when an exchange of passes with JJ Carlisle saw Davy Boal venture forward and unleash an outstanding shot which whizzed into the net.

Minutes later United had a goal disallowed when the New Buildings keeper spilled a high cross from Stuart McMullan at the feet of Aaron McCaffrey who touched it over the line but the referee adjudged that the keeper had been fouled in the build-up. United pressed continually and Ross Hayes saw his downward header bounce of the crossbar to safety.

The game went into extra time with United again pressing however neither team created any clear cut chances and the game was settled minutes before the end of the first half of extra time when Wayne Glenn crossed a ball from the touchline some forty or fifty yards from goal and with Brian McMullan who had been a virtual spectator for the previous fifty odd minutes back pedalling furiously the ball dropped in under the crossbar.

The visitors put every man they could muster behind the ball to repel United’s vain attempt to equalise and they held out for a fortuitous win however they have to be congratulated for a good performance throughout for such a youthful team.

Ballynahinch United 1 v 3 Dunmurry YM

United entertained the Division 1B league leaders Dunmurry YM at Millbridge in this league encounter. The visitors entered the game having won eleven straight league matches and throughout the first half they performed very well stretching the United defence of JJ Carlisle, Davy Boal, Ross Hayes and Stuart McMullan at every opportunity. Brian McMullan in United’s goal seen lots of action and had to be alert on a number of occasions with some excellent saves and catches. United had a few decent attacks on the Dunmurry goal with Johnny Gibson having a couple of half chances. Half time was reached with honours even and generally very little for the respective spectators to shout about.

It was United who came out of the blocks the quickest in the second half and what an impact they made with Aaron Cheevers scoring in the 46th minute when he pounced on a mistake to score with a well struck shot. United continued this ascendency with wave after wave of attacks with Greg Allison and Aaron Cheevers prominent on both wings. United were very unlucky not to go two ahead when a Cheevers cross was deflected by a Dunmurry defender onto his keeper’s chest and then onto the cross bar before being cleared. Moments later Greg Allison beat the keeper to a cross only to see his header bounce agonisingly wide of the post. Gavin Crawford almost made it two when he fired a long range shot goal ward when the Dunmurry keeper mistimes a clearance.

The home teams midfield of Ian Boal, Scott Brashaw, Crawford and Cheevers were working very hard and proving effective however United’s failure to  capitalise on their opportunities always had the potential to be their downfall however it would actually be a series of unfortunate circumstances that would contribute.

In the 75th minute Dunmurry were awarded a penalty following what looked like a decent last gasp challenge by Davy Boal. He appeared to have got the ball but the referee didn’t see it that way and having already been booked he received a second yellow card and was dismissed. Dunmurry duly took their opportunity and their penalty taker made no mistake.

Even though they were reduced to ten players the introduction into central defence of Owen Bassett gave United a solid look and indeed United had a number of opportunities.

United also had fresh legs with the introduction of Ian McMullan who proved to be a handful for the Dunmurry defenders and Lee Maxwell. Unfortunately for United an accidental collision between goal keeper Brian McMullan and Owen Bassett led to United losing their keeper with Lee Maxwell volunteering to stand in. The nine men United team fought on gamely as Dunmurry launched attack after attacked and in the dying minutes of the second half they conceded a second goal from a header. Despite a decent period of additional time they could not breach the Dunmurry defence and the unfortunate JJ Carlisle deflected the ball into his own net deep into injury time to end any chance United had.

Despite this defeat United can be well pleased with their effort because on another day they might well have had at least a draw. This week United travel to the Shore Road, Belfast for a league game against Grove United.

Sirocco Works 1 v 1 Ballynahinch United

United travelled to New Grosvenor last Saturday for this league encounter with Sirocco Works. It was the visitors who were out of the traps first and very quickly took command of the game and probably should have been two or three up by half time.

United’s early forays into the Sirocco penalty area were generally through the efforts of Johnny Gibson on the left wing and it was Gibson in the 10th minute who gave them the lead when he latched onto a through ball from Scott Brashaw to lift the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net.

Sirocco were having difficulty keeping pace with United’s excellent first time passing and after 20 minutes Aaron Cheevers should have doubled their lead when he ran through but he hit his shot over the cross bar.

As the first half went into its closing quarter the home side created a few scoring chances requiring goalkeeper Brian McMullan to make several fingertip saves.

In the second half there was a transformation in the Sirocco line up and they forced United onto the defensive. The defence of Hayes, Brashaw and Davy Boal required support from Stuart McMullan and JJ Carlisle and generally they were able to cope with what was thrown at them. Sirocco did have the ball in the net on 55 minutes but it was correctly ruled off side.

Ian Boal and Gavin Crawford in central midfield were unable to get the same control of the ball they had in the first half to give forwards Ian McMullan and Johnny Gibson any openings.

Lee Maxwell was introduced to the action on the hour mark and later David Kelly came into the fray and it looked as if United would hold on to their lead. Indeed they should have doubled the score after 75 minutes when quick thinking from Ian McMullan gave Ian Boal a chance but he skied his shot over the cross bar.

That missed opportunity proved very costly as things turned out because United conceded a penalty in the 80th minute when Hayes was very harshly adjudged to have pushed an attacker and Brian McMullan was unable to get near the resulting spot kick.

The closing ten minutes of the game were feisty to say the least and the referee failed to get a grip on some off the ball incidents which could and should have led to red cards. Indeed it appeared to be United players who found themselves in the referee’s notebook.

This week United entertain highflying neighbours Drumaness Mills in the first round of the Intermediate Cup at The Millbridge. The kick-off is at 1.30pm and a big attendance is anticipated. Due to a reduction in the available parking space at the Millbridge spectators are requested to get their early.