Grove United 0 v 2 Ballynahinch United

United travelled to the Shore Road, Belfast on Saturday for this league encounter with Grove United – a team who they have not played for a number of years. A strong wind blowing across the pitch made play difficult throughout, however United coped with the conditions much better than they had expected.

The game was end to end throughout with plenty of chances being created by both teams however United’s defence of Hayes, Carlisle and Stuart McMullan provided excellent cover to keeper Brian McMullan.

United opened the scoring on 20 minutes when Johnny Gibson scored a thirty yard screamer of a free kick which gave the Grove keeper no chance. United were very much in the ascendency at this stage with their midfield of Crawford, Ian Boal, Brashaw and Cheevers creating opening for the runs of Gibson and Jackson.

On the half hour mark Ian Boal had a penalty brilliantly saved by the Grove keeper after Gibson had been upended.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first however the slender 1 goal lead never seemed like it would be enough but the introduction of Ian McMullan, Greg Allison and Lee Maxwell gave United a fresh impetus and they were able to get the upper hand with a good finish from Ian McMullan.

United entertain Grove United at Millbridge this Saturday with a 2.00pm kick off.

Ballynahinch United 1 v 1 Ballywalter Recreation

United continued their league programme with the league encounter against Ballywalter who like their hosts are sitting in a mid-table position. United’s squad included the return of JJ Carlisle and Ian Boal from suspension and Stevenson and Jackson from injury and work commitments respectively.

United started very brightly and took the lead within the first few minutes when Ian McMullan headed home from a free kick. They were unable to build on this advantage as the visitors managed to control the game with their physicality which would cost them dearly with the dismissal of a midfielder for a bad tackle midway through the half.  Efforts by JJ Carlisle, Gareth McMullan and Simon Jackson failed to increase the lead while Brian McMullan had to be at his brilliant best to repel several good efforts from the visitors speedy forwards. Ballywalter got their break just before half time when the ball broke from a corner to fall kindly for a forward who smash past Brian McMullan for the equaliser.

In the second half United enjoyed the majority of possession with Cheevers, Maxwell, Crawford and Stuart McMullan moving the ball throughout midfield however they could not find the openings for the forwards. Ballywalter were reduced to nine men on the hour mark when Ian McMullan was the victim of a vicious challenge from behind.

The visitors worked tirelessly to stop United getting scoring opportunities and they employed every tactic they could to waste time to hold onto what they had. Substitutes Ian Boal and Johnny Gibson were introduced and United almost scored with a header from Maxwell who perhaps had more time than he thought while Stuart McMullan looked to have scored with a superb shot but the Ballywalter keeper produced an excellent save.

United will have been disappointed not to have won this game however but for a few timely interceptions from defensive pairing Ross Hayes and Scott Brashaw they could have lost as Ballywalter posed a threat on the break.

Holywood F.C. 1 v 2 Ballynahinch United

United travelled to Seapark, Holywood for this league encounter last Saturday against a local side that has been struggling yet producing the occasional shock result. While confidence was high amongst the United squad following their superb victory over Drumaness Mills the absence of four regulars, Hayes and Cheevers who were unavailable and Davy Boal and JJ Carlisle who were suspended, was a cause for concern amongst the supporters.

Manager Keith Hamilton had to rejig his defence with Ethan Majury and Ian Boal coming in to join Scott Brashaw. In midfield David Kelly was joined by Lee Maxwell, Ian McMullan, Gavin Crawford and Stuart McMullan. Up front duo Johnny Gibson and Simon Jackson would prove to be a constant thorn in the flesh with their direct running.

United dominated possession for most of the game but they did not really create a great deal of openings primarily due to a hard working Holywood defence.

United’s big break came midway through the first half when they were awarded a penalty however the usually reliable Ian Boal hit the outside of the post.

The home side had a number of excursions into the United penalty area but their defence and goal keeper Brian McMullan dealt with everything competently.

A much different United came out in the second half and in a short period of time they were 2-0 up thanks to goals from forward duo Simon Jackson and Johnny Gibson.

It looked as if United would coast to victory but the home team scored a goal in the closing stages of the game. United introduced Greg Allison, Jay Smyth and debutant Nathan Farquhar and with a determined effort they held their lead to take all three points.

Ballynahinch United 2 v 1 Drumaness Mills

United entertained their near neighbours Drumaness Mills in this 1st Round Coca Cola Intermediate Cup tie at the Millbridge last Saturday. The weather twenty four hours before had been horrendous and when the pitch was inspected on Friday evening those who did considered it unplayable however by Saturday morning the good work that grounds man Jimmy Brown and his helpers had done during the summer bore fruit and it was game on. Unfortunately for the large number of supporters who turned up to encourage both teams on the rain started just before kick-off however to a man, women and child they stayed with it.

Drumaness Mills started the game with a strong wind in their backs and they dominated the early play winning a succession of corners however they failed to trouble a resolute United defence in which Davy Boal, Scott Brashaw, Ross Hayes and JJ Carlisle were in excellent form. United on the other hand had their attacking options restricted to breakaways and on several occasions the strong running of Simon Jackson and Johnny Gibson caused the Mills defence quite a few problems.

The Mills took the lead on the half hour mark when Davy Boal mistimed a challenge inside the penalty area and from the spot ace marksman Nathan Jones beat goal keeper Brian McMullan but only just.

The weather was deteriorating as the game went into the final fifteen minutes of the half however United seemed to increase in tempo and Jackson brought an outstanding save from the Mills keeper who seemed to injury himself in doing so. Minutes later and United were level when the Mills keeper flapped at a cross and when the ball broke free Ian Boal smashed the ball goal ward and it went in off a defender.

In the second half Drumaness Mills despite a stiff breeze in their faces played some neat football and United’s midfield of Aaron Cheevers, Ian Boal, Gavin Crawford and Ian McMullan had a lot of work to do to keep them at bay.

United were always a danger on the break and Lee Maxwell who had not been scoring with the same regularity of late arrived on the scene at the right time to rifle home the winner.

In the closing moments of the game United had two players dismissed by the referee with one the victim of a blatant head butt which everyone but the referee witnessed.  He did however see the victim try to protect himself from any further assault which was sufficient to warrant him receiving a red card.

A very disappointing end to a game that was generally played in a sporting manner and particularly so for the home team who prevailed against a strong and experienced Drumaness Mills team who are riding high in the NAFL Premier League.

Congratulations to the supporters from both teams who turned out in atrocious conditions and gave their team’s tremendous support.

This week United travel to Hollywood F.C in the league.

Irish Cup: Ballynahinch United 0 v 1 Sirocco Works

United entertained Sirocco Works in this second round Irish Cup tie and went down by a single goal following a fairly dour encounter in which both teams created few scoring opportunities. Long periods of play were centred on the middle of the park with both defences coping with whatever was thrown at them. United had Simon Jackson back up front and Gavin Crawford restored to the centre of midfield.

United’s best chance of the first half came following a shot from Jackson which was superbly saved by the Sirocco keeper while Brain McMullan in the home goal got his fingers to a shot which he managed to get over the bar.

Sirocco took the lead in the 40th minute from a free kick after a foul by Davy Boal. The kick from near the by-line evaded Brian McMullan and seemed to go into the net of a forward who would have known little about it.

In the second half United pressed forward but they were unable to create any real openings. In the closing stages of the game Ian Boal was set free on the right side of the penalty area and as the Sirocco keeper ran out to block his path he clipped to ball goal ward. The home crowd were ready to cheer as the effort looked for all in the world to be going into the net but it bounced agonisingly wide of the post and into the side netting.

This week United travel to play Sirocco in a league game at Ballyskeagh.