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.

Ballynahinch United 2 v 1 Dromore Amateurs

IRISH CUP – ROUND 2

United entertained near neighbours Dromore Amateurs at the Millbridge on Saturday last for the first time in a number of years in this Irish Cup 2nd Round tie.

The home team went into this game without regulars Aaron Cheevers, Ross Hayes, David Boal who were unavailable through holiday, injury and suspension respectively.

From the start the home team were on the attack and indeed maintained this for most of the game however it was Dromore who took the lead after ten minutes when their captain latched onto a loose ball from Stuart McMullan to score from some twenty five yards with a shot that sailed over keeper Brian McMullan’s head into the net.

While this stunned the home team it did not prevent them from getting into their passing game and throughout the remainder of the half they launched attack after attack with Ian McMullan, Johnny Hunter, David Kelly, Gareth Bingham and Craig Bowman all going close.

The second half resumed with United again on the attack with Johnny Hunter hitting the crossbar with a long range deflected shot.

Inside the first ten minutes United lost influential midfielder Stuart McMullan who had to leave the field with a very nasty facial injury that necessitated hospital treatment. The circumstances of the injury caused considerable upset to both team mates and the home supporters who were incensed that the referee did not see the offending punch.

When the game settled down United pressed for an equaliser and it came on the hour mark when Scott Brashaw and Johnny Hunter combined for Hunter to run onto the edge of the six yard box to score with a shot into the roof of the net.

Adam Herron who was making his first appearance of the season following injury took the place of the unfortunate Stuart McMullan and it was he who created the winning goal when he bombed forward onto a pass from Jonathan Smyth to centre the ball which was met by Ian McMullan who’s shot was deflected into the net past the despairing dive of the Dromore keeper.

The visitors pressed forward in search of an equaliser however they found the United defence of Brashaw, Patterson and JJ Carlisle in a very determined mood.

The home team introduced attacker Scott McKibbin and he stretched the Dromore defence with his strong runs.

United travel to Ardstraw this coming Saturday for an Intermediate Cup tie.

The Swifts and Albion games fell foul of the weather.

Ballynahinch United 2 v 1 Newcastle

United entertained Newcastle in a Division 1B league fixture at a very sunny Millbridge last Saturday.The two teams had met the week before at the Shimna Integrated School in what was a fairly tame scoreless affair however this one turned out to considerably livelier and with a considerable bit more controversy. United plans were somewhat upset when Ross Hayes reported with a back injury and had to drop out of the team at the last minute.

Right from the kick off the home side were on the offensive and surprisingly Newcastle seemed content to soak up the pressure with ten men behind the ball for most of the half. Their attacking opportunities were limited to breakaways by this tactic and a superbly well marshaled defence in which Brashaw, Carlisle, David Boal and Craig Bowman performed brilliantly were allowed to orchestrate many of their sides attacking moves.

Unfortunately for United they were unable to create any clear cut opportunities giving Baker in the seasiders goal a relatively quiet first half.

In the second half the early exchanges were controlled by Newcastle however they left themselves susceptible to the pace of United’s two forwards Ian McMullan and Aaron Cheevers who both missed good scoring opportunities in the first fifteen minutes of the second half.

The controversial moment of the second half and what possibly turned the game occurred on the hour mark. Ballynahinch United were awarded a free kick on the edge of their penalty area which was taken quickly by keeper Brian McMullan. The ball was launched into the Newcastle penalty area and it was chased by Ian McMullan who went for the ball in a clear 50/50 with keeper Paddy Baker. When the two players collided the ball appeared to come off McMullan’s hand and ended up in the back of the net. The referee who was well behind play did not and would not have been unable to see any hand ball infringement awarded the goal despite the protests of the Newcastle players.

This stroke of good fortune for United spurred them on and within five minutes they were 2-0 up when Ian McMullan pounced on a loose ball to score past the despairing dive of Baker.

Newcastle pressed hard to get back into the game but United held firm with Stuart McMullan, David Kelly, Scot McKibbin and Johnny Hunter working overtime in midfield to support their defence. Substitutes Smyth and late in the game Patterson played their part in securing three precious points that see United maintaining second spot in the league ahead of a run of at least two weeks when they play cup matches.

The game ended with a Newcastle player being sent off for a robust tackle on Boal and a number of booking for players for both side although the game was generally played in a good spirit.

This Saturday United entertain local rivals Dromore Amateurs who they have not played for a number of years. The Dromore team are currently playing in Division 1C  and have been on a good run of late and United certainly not be taking them lightly. The kick off is at 1.30pm.