Ballynahinch United 1 v 0 Ballywalter Rec.

United entertained Ballywalter Recreation in this league game at Millbridge on Saturday. The weather conditions and the pitch were in excellent condition for the start of this game however things would be a lot different in the second half. United started the brighter against a Ballywalter team who are struggling at the bottom of the league and they went close on a number of occasions in the early stages. A Jay Smyth shot sailed over the cross bar while the Ballywalter goalkeeper and his defenders managed to block efforts from Steven Kennedy and Ian McMullan.

United sent wave after wave of attack on the Ballywalter defence and it was from a long throw in the 21st minute from McCauley Foster that they took the lead thanks to a couple of defensive deflections and the intervention of Ian McMullan who claimed the last touch.

Any hopes that this would open the flood gates were sadly mistaken as Ballywalter staged a number of counter attacks in search of an equaliser and United’s defensive formation of Hayes, Foster and Brashaw had to be at their very best along with Brian McMullan who pulled off a number of good saves. In midfield Stuart McMullan seemed to be on the end of all of United’s attacks while Cheevers, Smyth and Hunter passed the ball about with ease.

United will have been disappointed that they had not increased their lead by half time particularly as the weather was deteriorating with sleet and snow falling. The good attendance of spectators who were huddled at every sheltered location around the ground were looking for some sparkling football and more goals to cheer them up in the second half but that is not the way things would turn out.

Ballywalter to their credit pressed forward at times hemming United into their half and the introduction of substitutes Ian Boal, David Kelly and Adam Herron whilst strengthening United defensively failed to inject that extra spark into attack.

Several long range efforts from Ian Boal caused the Ballywalter defence some discomfort and Ian McMullan shot narrowly wide while the running of Aaron Cheevers led to a number of free kicks in decent positions but Johnny Hunter could not conjure up any magic.

In the closing minutes Johnny Hunter put in an outstanding tackle to clear the ball for a corner after a Ballywalter forward was put through on goal. Not long after the referee blew the final whistle to bring proceedings to an end and give United a hard earned three points.

Supporters should keep in touch with club officials this week regarding the next league fixture as although United are supposed to be away to Immaculata in the league they are supposed to be playing in the Clarence Cup that day.

Rathfriland Rangers 3 v 1 Ballynahinch United

United travelled to Iveagh Park, Rathfriland for this league encounter against the home side who are riding high and one of the favourites for promotion from Division 1B.

Last year United scored a superb away victory but despite a spirited display they could not do it again.

United played very well in the first half and were a shade unfortunate to go in at half time 2-1 down. The home side scored after twenty minutes but United equalised through Steven Kennedy on the half hour mark.

Rathfriland went into the break 2-1 up when they scored from a free kick in the closing seconds.

United toiled away in the second half in an effort to secure an equaliser but all was in vain against and experienced and well drilled home defence.

Rathfriland made sure of the points when they scored a third goal although it was somewhat contentious as most thought the player who laid on the pass to the scorer did so from an offside position.

This week United entertain Dunmurry YM in the league at Millbridge with a 2pm kick off.

Bloomfield 3 v 2 Ballynahinch United

United travelled to Grand Parade, Belfast on Saturday for this league encounter with Bloomfield one of the form teams in the division. United’s line up was enhanced with the return of Scot Brashaw, Jay Smyth and Adam Herron however an astonishing six first teamers in JJ Carlisle, goalkeeper Brian McMullan, Craig Bowman, Johnny Hunter, Scott McKibbin and Alan Patterson were absent for a variety of reasons. Into the line-up stepped goalkeeper John McMenamin for his competitive debut and new signing Steven Kennedy with both acquitting themselves very well.

The game started evenly with both teams settling into the heavy conditions but soon United’s cause was set back by the dismissal of Ian Boal for an innocuous challenge near the touch line which deserved no more than a yellow card and a stern warning.

Soon after Bloomfield took the lead but United had got themselves reorganised and equalised through Steven Kennedy who scored on his debut with a fine drive after some skilful foot work.

United had a number of other scoring opportunities through Brashaw and Herron but they failed to take them.

In the second half United grafted hard but the game became a war of attrition with the referee continually taking centre stage dishing out yellow cards like confetti generally for the most trivial tackles while more severe challenges went unpunished.

Bloomfield nudged themselves in front midway through the half but as the game was entering its closing stages up popped Ian McMullan to head the equaliser. By this stage United had been reduced to nine players following another dismissal.

The game went into extra time and it looked as if United had done enough to win a point but again the referee intervened playing an astonishing ten minutes of additional time and it was in the 99th minute that Bloomfield scored the winner from a free kick.

This was a disappointing outcome for United however the performance of debutants John McMenamin in goals and Steven Kennedy was a welcome boost.