Ballynahinch United welcomed Portaferry Rovers to The Millbridge for the opening game of the Northern Amateur Football League Division 1B season.
Rain sprinkled over the freshly cut grass as teams prepared for kick-off. But it didn’t put off the spectators as fans from both sides lined the perimeter of the pitch, eagerly anticipating the start of the new season.
Continue reading Match Report: Ballynahinch United 1 – 1 Portaferry Rovers
A sun drenched Millbridge hosted a Border Cup first round tie against Groomsport who were visiting the ground for the second time in a fortnight. Manager Glynn Robinson went into the game without at least half a dozen regulars and he also chose to give full debuts to teenagers Conor Graham and Johnny Shannon leaving another three regulars on the bench. Also making his debut was goalkeeper Niall Tyndall whose handling was excellent throughout.
The early exchanges were fairly even however United started to dominate creating numerous openings through the efforts of Greg Allison on the right and Alex Burtney on the left. In central midfield Gavin Crawford and Jordan Hayes worked tirelessly while the new but very effective defensive line out of Johnny Shannon, Conor Graham, Ben Wilson and Davy Boal looked solid. Having spurned a number of decent scoring opportunities which included several excellent saves by the visiting keeper United took the lead on 25 minutes when Ian McMullan tapped in from close range following a goal mouth scramble.
On the half hour mark United were awarded a penalty when Johnny Stevenson was bundled over. The big striker dusted himself down and took the spot kick however it was well saved by the Groomsport keeper down to his right hand side.
Five minutes later Groomsport broke on the right wing and although their forward looked offside he smashed a shot past Tyndall to make the score 1 – 1 at half time.
Early in the second half manager Glynn Robinson made a few planned substitutions bringing Alan Patterson on in defence and Jack Davis in midfield.
In the 55th minute Ian McMullan ran onto a pass from Stevenson and slotted the ball into the net. Minutes later Jack Forbes was brought into the action and he pounced on a loose ball to head the ball into the net to make it 3 – 1.
On the hour mark it was 4 – 1 as Ian McMullan got his hat trick when he intercepted a back pass to run past the keeper and slot the ball home.
Jack Forbes, Jack Davis and Alex Burtney were making a nuisance of themselves across midfield as they latched onto clearance after clearance feeding numerous passes into the penalty area.
Forbes got his second goal when he and Stevenson combined for the latter to fire the ball into the net form ten yards and the hard working Stevenson got a deserved goal when he ghosted into the penalty area to take the ball past the tackles of several defenders to shoot home.
The score line of 6 – 1 was a deserved result for the home side who worked tirelessly throughout. Groomsport never gave up at any time and played some neat football at times.
There is no match this week due to the Northern Ireland International so the next action is expected to be on Saturday 15th September.
United travelled to Carrickfergus for this league encounter following their first win of the season the previous week. Barn United are currently positioned in the top four in the division so this would prove to be a stern challenge. The early exchanges were fairly even with United’s rear guard of Jack Davis, Alan Patterson, Scott Brashaw and Paul Dickson defending resolutely. In midfield Greg Allison, Gavin Crawford, David Kelly and Stuart McMullan kept possession of the ball whilst also preventing the home team from getting the ball to their dangerous forwards. Ian McMullan and Ross Murray worked tirelessly in their forward positions giving the Barn defenders little peace throughout the whole game.
United’s hard work was undone in the 35th minute when a Barn winger cut in from the left and ran across the penalty area before unleashing a shot which went into the net despite a great effort by John McMenamin to save it. Despite this set back United pressed forward and when they won a corner before half time Alan Patterson rose at the back post to head home Jack Davis’s superb delivery. The second half followed the trend of the first with the home team taking the lead again after 65 minutes through a slice of good fortune when a deflected shot crept into the net despite McMenamin clawing it onto the post in a desperate attempt to save it.
As United pressed for an equaliser the game opened up and the home team almost took a two goal lead however McMenamin pulled off a spectacular save to keep his team in it.
Manager Alan Davis introduced all three of his substitutes, Ben Wilson, Alex Burtney and Corey Fitzpatrick, in an effort to breathe new life into his team and it most certainly did the trick. Birthday boy Ian McMullan was the hero for United as he ran onto a through ball to crash the ball past the home goalkeeper to give United a deserved and hard earned point.
Next Saturday United entertain Portaferry in a league game at Millbridge.
United entertained Grove United in this NAFL Division 1B league match and yes if you had to have a second look at the score line, yes United did win and convincingly at that.
United have not had the best of seasons so far following the loss of a number of senior players who have chosen to play elsewhere however the club still retain a cadre of players who along with a strong group of young players have been working very hard to reverse the clubs fortunes. While Rome wasn’t built in a day manager Alan Davis and his assistant Paul Allison will have seen very positive signs from this performance.
Right from the start United were on the attack with a strong wind in their backs and on 15 minutes David Kelly waltzed through the visitors defence to slot the ball past the advancing keeper. On twenty minutes, team captain Gavin Crawford pounced on a loose ball to drive the ball into the Grove net from twenty-five yards.
Grove, despite going behind proved to be a constant threat and the United defence of Paul Dickson, Alan Patterson, Scott Brashaw and Jack Davis had to be on their toes while keeper John McMenamin blocked a number of shots to keep the visitors out. Ian McMullan and Ross Murray were proving to be a real handful for the Grove defence while the midfield of Stuart McMullan, David Kelly, Gavin Crawford and Gregg Allison worked tirelessly.
In the second half United faced an onslaught from Grove United however the defence held resolute with United having a number of forays forward and these proved to be productive when Ian McMullan scored a third on the hour mark after Stuart McMullan’s shot had come back off the crossbar. This took the pressure off somewhat however the visitors continued to cause problems particularly in midfield. The introduction of substitutes Ben Wilson, Alex Burtney and John Hill gave United extra energy to exploit defensive spaces that were created as Grove pressed for a goal. United’s fourth came when Alex Burtney found space on the left side of the penalty area and while his initial shot was saved he passed the ball across the six-yard area for Gregg Allison to side foot home.
There was a universal sigh of relief and justified excitement amongst players, management, committee and supporters alike when the final whistle was sounded. While there are many hurdles to be overcome throughout the season, this performance, if it can be repeated on a more consistent basis gives more than a glimmer of hope.
After a break of over two months Ballynahinch United got their season back on track with a game having suffered cancellation after cancellation due to the recent inclement weather. Believe it or not this game was moved from venue to venue across North Down to get it played and it finally took place on the council pitch at Kircubbin which was in excellent condition.
United were up against Abbey Villa in one of the leading contenders in NAFL Division 1A and not having played for some time was evident as the home team went into a 2-0 lead after fifteen minutes with goals from Adam Arthurs and Michael Doran.
Most of the first half hour proved to be hard going for United with their defensive line up of Alex Miller, Ross Hayes, Scott Brashaw and Stuart McMullan having to work hard and give goal keeper Bryan McMullan some cover. As the first half progressed the midfield of Dalton Tate, Gavin Crawford, Matty Shaw, Aaron Cheevers and Stuart Hunter got a lot more possession to give Ian McMullan some service and support up front. In the 40th minute Ian McMullan scored following a goalmouth scramble and as the first half ended the visitors were well into the game.
At the start of the second half it was Abbey Villa who made the early running however once United got hold of the ball the situation changed with wave after wave of attack descending on the Villa goal and in the 50th minute United got the opportunity to level the game when Ian McMullan was upended in the penalty area. Up stepped the usually reliable Dalton Tate who sadly got under his spot kick to launch it over the bar.
Abbey Villa got a third from a Michael Doran header on the hour mark and this made United’s task all the more harder. United manager Keith Hamilton brought on Dee Stewart, Gregg Allison and Ethan Majury in an effort to get back into the game. Majury, Stuart McMullan and Alex Millar all had long range efforts from free kicks but they could not get the opening that would have made for an exciting finish.
This was United’s first game for almost ten weeks and given the quality of the opposition they were facing this was a good performance and it is a credit to the players for keeping themselves in good condition despite the constant disappointments of the previous weeks postponements.
This week United entertain Colin Valley at the Millbridge and it will require a performance of the same quality to secure important league points.
Some photos of saturdays match can be seen below.