Match Report: Sirocco Works 1 v 3 Ballynahinch United

United travelled to New Grosvenor last Tuesday night for the second of the season’s two midweek games against a strong Sirocco Works team who had like their opponents not found that winning formula after three league games.

The early exchanges were even with Sirocco enjoying the advantage of a strong wind while United’s slick passing enabled them to gain valuable attacking opportunities. United suffered the loss of forward Gareth McMullan with a hamstring injury after twenty minutes. Sirocco created a few chances which Brian McMullan dealt with well while at the other end the Sirocco keeper pulled off an outstanding goal line clearance from a shot by David Kelly. On the half hour mark as United pressed up field they were caught out by a long ball which left the Sirocco centre forward free to run through and slip the ball past Brian McMullan. This was a blow for United however they were not to be behind for long as after a few unproductive attacks Dalton Tate released Stuart McMullan on the right wing and he slipped the ball to David Kelly who centred for Gavin Crawford to head superbly into the net.

In the second half United had the advantage of the wind and they varied their tactics with more use of the longer diagonal ball which caused the Sirocco defence lots of problems. Time and again Stuart McMullan and Aaron McCaffrey beat the offside to create openings.

In the 50th minute following excellent work on the right wing by Craig Bowman found David Kelly who created an opening for Scott Brashaw to run into the penalty area and unleash a shot that went in off the post to give United the lead.

This was a lead that United were determined to hold onto and this was epitomised throughout the team. In defence Paul Dickson rose to clear a barrage of long balls while his defensive colleagues Davy Boal, Craig Bowman and Craig McMullan repelled attacks all along their back line. Brian McMullan who was rarely troubled still handled superbly when called upon. In midfield Kelly, Tate, Brashaw and Crawford worked their socks off while Stuart McMullan and McCaffrey provided an excellent first line of defence as they harried the Sirocco defenders at every opportunity.

Despite holding the lead things remained tense until the 80th minute when United got their third goal which always looked as if it would come. Once again it was pressure on the right wing that created the opening and when McCaffrey latched onto the ball in the penalty area he cleverly side footed it to David Kelly who thumped it into the roof of the net.

Sirocco pushed hard in the closing minutes to get back into the game but United remained steadfast to hold on to the valuable three points they had worked so hard for. Gareth Bingham replaced the hard working McCaffrey in the forward line and like all his team mates he put in a valuable shift.

This result is a just reward for some decent performances by United in these opening league matches of the season. Over the next three weeks they face Lisburn Rangers, East Belfast and Killyleagh in cup matches.

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.

Sirocco Works 1 v 2 Ballynahinch United

United travelled to the Billy Neill Playing Fields, Dundonald last Saturday for this league fixture against Sirocco Works. In addition to long term absentees JJ Carlisle, Craig Bowman and Alan Patterson also missing were Steven Kennedy and Johnny Hunter so in came Ian Boal, Scott McKibbin and Greg Allison.

Things started very badly for the visitors when they were caught cold by Sirocco in the first minute when they scored after some rather slack play. United rallied with the help of some excellent defending from Boal, Hayes, Foster and Herron and safe handling from Brian McMullan to get into the game. Stuart McMullan got United right back into the game on the stroke of half time when he scored to make it 1-1.

In the second half United were a much different proposition and prompted on by Scott Brashaw players such as Jay Smyth, David Kelly, Aaron Cheevers, Scott McKibbin and Ian Boal all played a major role in ensuring that all three points came back to the Millbridge thanks to a last minute winner from Ian McMullan.

This week United travel to Dunmurry YM for their final away game of the season before they finish with two home games against Lisburn Rangers [20th April] and Immaculata [4th May].

Club Notes

United had no game on Saturday having played league leaders Immaculata on Thursday night under floodlights at Grosvenor Leisure Centre. Despite losing 3-1 they put in a good performance with Johnny Hunter scoring from the penalty spot. This Saturday United travel to Sirocco Works for a league fixture.

The Albion’s home game against Ballynagross was postponed due to a snow bound pitch.

This week the Swifts travel to Groomsport on Tuesday night and then entertain the same team on Saturday at Millbridge.

Ballynahinch United 1 v 2 Sirocco Works


United’s long unbeaten run of nine games came to a disappointing end when they lost this league game at the Millbridge on Saturday last.

The game was quite even in the opening stages although United had the lion share of the possession with Cheevers prominent on the right wing.

The best chance of the first ten minutes fell to Patterson who found himself free inside the penalty area but as he delayed his shot the ball was cleared off his foot to safety for a corner. From the corner Stuart McMullan had the ball in the net but he was correctly adjudged by the referee to be offside.

On 20 minutes Sirocco took the lead from the penalty spot a decision that was hotly disputed. The ball had broken free in midfield and a Sirocco player picked it up and passed it into the path of his team mate who ran into the penalty area. He was challenged by at least three defenders and keeper Brian McMullan who cleared the ball for a corner however the player plunged to the ground and the referee who was quite well back gave the spot kick which Brian McMullan was unable to save.

United pressed forward but despite the amount of possession they had they did not threaten the Sirocco keeper. Just before the half hour mark Sirocco were 2-0 up when they again found space through the middle of the park to slip a forward in to score past Brian McMullan with a well executed finish.

In the second half United pressed to get back into the game and did so when a shot was defelcted into the Sirocco net by a defender but despite all their efforts they could not get the equaliser.

This was a disappointing result for the home team who were looking to this game to guage how much they had progressed as Sirocco are expected to challenge for honours this year. United were every bit their match however overplaying in the centre of the midfield area was their undoing for both of the goals. The other area that they need to improve in is in converting the opportunities they create into goals. At the end of the day they proved themselves to be every bit as good as Sirocco. This week they travel to another of the fancied teams away to Lisburn Rangers.