Ballynahinch United 1 v 0 Grove United

United entertained Grove United in this league fixture at Millbridge last Saturday and having defeated the Belfast Shore Road side the previous week in a close encounter the same difficult game was expected.

It was the home team who were on the attack from kick off with JJ Carlisle and Lee Maxwell combining well on the right wing with Stuart McMullan and Johnny Gibson providing a similar threat on the left flank.

After forcing a series of corners it was United who would score what turned out to be the only goal of the game in the 15th minute. Johnny Gibson did extremely well to keep an over hit cross from going out of play which deceived the Grove defence and when he managed to cross the ball onto the edge of the six yard area Gavin Crawford was standing unmarked to head home off the inside of the post.

Throughout the game United’s defence of JJ Carlisle, Scott Brashaw, Ross Hayes and Stuart McMullan were resolute and with Brian McMullan in commanding form, Grove never really created any serious goal threat despite having some good possession.

In midfield Aaron Cheevers worked tirelessly alongside Ian Boal and Gavin Crawford while Ian McMullan was always an attacking threat but little fell his way. Gregg Alison and Davy Boal provided extra support when they came on and even though it wasn’t a convincing display it was nevertheless a deserved victory with another clean sheet being a bonus.

This week United travel to Ballywalter Rec. for a league fixture.

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 Downshire

United returned to league action at the Millbridge for the first time in 2014 against their near neighbours the Hillsborough based Downshire YM who until recently have not been having the greatest of seasons. United entered the game with a plethora of changes due to the absence for a variety of reasons of experienced campaigners Davy Boal, Aaron Cheevers, Gavin Crawford, Ross Hayes and Simon Jackson from the previous week’s team.

The opening exchanges were even, however by the time United took the lead in the fifteenth minute they were dominating proceedings. A surge from defence by Scott Brashaw was not halted and as the defender took the ball to the edge of the six yard area he cut it back for Johnny Gibson to shoot home. The same player had almost scored minutes earlier when his long range shot cannoned off the crossbar with experienced Downshire YM keeper Brian Burgess well beaten.

United’s defence of Ethan Majury, JJ Carlisle and Scott Brashaw had their work cut out over the next fifteen minute period as Downshire prompted in midfield by former United player Matty Shaw laid siege to the home goal in which Brian McMullan’s handling was outstanding. The big keeper however was unable to stop the equaliser from the penalty spot on twenty five minutes after JJ Carlisle had been penalised.

After this flurry of goal scoring, clear cut openings were limited for the reminder of the game especially as the second half progressed with perhaps both teams afraid of losing. United’s midfield of Ian Boal, Lee Maxwell, Stuart McMullan and Johnny Gibson worked tirelessly to create openings while Ian and Gareth McMullan combined very well up front.

While the result may not have been to the pleasing of a good local support the introduction of teenagers Greg Allison and on his debut Jack Patterson gave them a glimpse of the future stars with neither in the slightest overawed.

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.

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.