United entertained Chimney Corner in this first round Intermediate Cup game at Millbridge last Saturday. The match had been scheduled to take place the previous week however a waterlogged ground had contributed to its cancellation.
The visitors were an unknown quantity however in the first fifteen minutes United’s goalkeeper Michael Vladeanu had made three one on one saves to keep his team in the game.
Central defender Alan Patterson went over on his ankle after twenty minutes and he was replaced by Alex Burtney with Corey Fitzpatrick switching to defence. At this point United had settled into the game and had forced a number of corners and saves from the visiting keeper. Within ten minutes on being on the pitch Alex Burtney has scored two goals following combinations with Ross Murray and Ian McMullan and his efforts were added to by Stuart McMullan who made it 3 – 0. In midfield David Kelly and Gavin Crawford worked tirelessly to deny the visitors possession while defensively Jack Davis, Scott Brashaw and the Fitzpatrick brothers Corey and Dylan stood up to anything that came at them.
Having gone in 3 – 0 up at half time things looked good for the home team however the second half turned out to be a stressful 45 minutes for management and supporters.
In fairness to Chimney Corner they came out all guns a blazing in the second half and their efforts were rewarded with a penalty on the hour mark which gave them something to fight for. United weathered the initial storm but could not find the fluency they had in the first half.Conceding another goal late in the game kept everyone on the edge of their seat to the end but credit to the players who battled hard to keep their win. United will entertain Mid Ulster side Craigavon City in the next round in mid-November.
United entertained NAFL Division 1B promotion contenders Barn United at the Millbridge last Saturday. Having taken four points from two games against Grove and Barn a few weeks ago United were anxious to bounce back from a disappointing home defeat the previous week to Portaferry.
It was the visitors who started the strongest and despite the loss of their leading scorer during the week to Premier League side East Belfast they looked like a very accomplished outfit that moved the band around with ease. United’s defensive line-up of Davis, Brashaw, Patterson and Dickson had their work cut out from the start with returning goalkeeper Hagi [Michael Vladeanu] making several excellent saves. It took about ten minutes before the home team were able to get a decent attack together however they almost scored when having been awarded a free kick outside the penalty area David Kelly’s shot ricochet’s off the Barn wall and struck the base of the post. After this United forced a number of corners through the tenacity of midfielders Allison, Kelly, Crawford and Stuart McMullan and the intelligent runs of Ross Murray and Ian McMullan. In the 20th minute this hard work was rewarded with a goal when a defender under pressure from Crawford at a corner headed into his own net.
Barn laid siege to the United goal for a period of time after this but could not get a breakthrough and from a breakaway the Barn goalkeeper brought Stuart McMullan down and David Kelly scored the resultant kick to make it 2-0.
In the second half United toiled to preserve their lead with substitutes Burtney, Fitzpatrick and Hill joining the fray to add much needed energy. Both Ian McMullan and Corey Fitzpatrick had excellent opportunities to score in one on one situation but they failed to do so.
Barn scored in the 87th minute to make it a very difficult closing period however United held on to claim a deserved three points on a day when most of the so called strugglers also achieved victories.
This Saturday there is a break from league action when United entertain one of Northern Ireland’s most famous clubs Chimney Corner in the 1st Round of the Junior Cup. While they are no longer the force they once were they will nevertheless give United a tough game. The kick-off is at 1.30pm.
Goals in each half from Stephen Megoran and Niall Walsh secured three points and the bragging rights in the early part of the season from this exciting derby game at the Millbridge last Saturday.
Millbridge was packed by supporters from both sides each keen to encourage their side on to victory and in the early exchanges it was the home team who did most of the attacking with Johnny Stevenson going close in the opening minutes. Greg Allison caused the Olympic defence considerable trouble in the early stages of the game putting in a succession of crosses that lead to several corners one of which led to a Matty Shaw header being cleared off the goal line.
Olympic took the lead after ten minutes when Megoran’s left wing cross from thirty odd yards looped high over United keeper Bryan McMullan to drop under the cross bar into the net. This was a very lucky break for the visitors which gave them an advantage in the game which they worked tirelessly to hold onto. It was a cruel blow to United’s defence of Alex Miller, Davy Boal, Matty Shaw and Stuart McMullan who had restricted Olympics’ forward threat.
On the half hour mark United had a genuine claim for a penalty when Alan Patterson was bundled over from behind in the act of shooting for goal however referee Mark Domican did not share the United supporter’s opinion.
In the second half United pressed for an equaliser with Dalton Tate, Stuart Hunter and JJ Carlisle prominent however Olympic worked tirelessly to reduce the number of scoring opportunities with their keeper in superb form.
Olympic got their second midway through the second half when Niall Walsh rose above the United defence to head home a superb right wing cross past Bryan McMullan. They could well have been three up when they missed a penalty after Boal, who was sent off for a second bookable offence, had brought down an attacker however the spot kick came back off the crossbar.
United introduced Gareth McMullan and Dee Stewart to the fray and they combined very well when Stewarts shot was headed goal wards by McMullan only for the Olympic keeper to miraculously palm it over the bar.
This was an encouraging start from Olympic who have high hopes for the season ahead while the United supporters will have been encouraged by a battling performance from a team that was missing six players through injury.
United now have a succession of away games against Rathfern Rangers [last night], Ballywalter [Saturday] and next week against opponents who have to be confirmed before they meet Valley Rangers in the Irish Cup on Saturday 22nd August.
Ballynahinch United held their annual dinner and awards presentation in the Primrose Restaurant on Saturday night.
Club Chairman Gilbert Cromie welcomed those present and thanked committee, players, supporters and sponsors for all their hard work during what had been a successful season for both the United and Swifts teams. The following awards were presented:
Managers Player of the Year: Gareth Bingham
Players Player of the Year: Graeme McMullan
Leading Scorers: Alan Massey / Graeme McMullan
Managers Player of the Year: Stuart McMullan
Players Player of the Year: Ethan Majury
Leading Scorer: Ian McMullan
Young Player of the Year: Greg Allison
Club Leading Scorers: Alan Massey / Graeme McMullan
The Golden Boot Award went to first team defender Davy Boal
Goalkeeper Bryan McMullan has often provided that vital last line of defence for United over the last number of seasons pulling of countless last gasp or point blank saves but last Saturday, and not for the first time either, he scored the equaliser to secure his team a valuable point.
The game started very badly for United as they conceded a goal in the first few minutes from a long throw which was flicked into the path of a Rathfern forward who volleyed the ball first time past Bryan McMullan. For the remainder of the half it was United on the attack with Paul Dickson and Aaron McCaffrey going close with a header and shot respectively as Adam Herron, Dalton Tate and Stuart McMullan combined consistently down the left wing to provide a series of half chances and force corner after corner.
Rathfern, for their part, were dangerous on the break and on more than one occasion Ross Hayes or Davy Boal had to be at their very best to stop the swift breaks while Bryan McMullan pulled off a few important saves.
Ethan Majury was moved into a more forward position for this game and was a willing runner in the absence of the injured Ian McMullan and his chasing down of defenders along with Gavin Crawford and McCaffrey caused the visitors some very uncomfortable moments.
The equaliser came five minutes from half time when Davy Boal fired in a shot from the right hand side of the penalty area which nestled in the side of the net having taken a deflection.
In the second half United started brightly but appeared to lose momentum and for long periods of the second half found themselves defending breakaways which required some solid defending from Hayes, Herron and an outstanding last ditch tackle from Dickson to save a certain goal. That combined with a close penalty shout made it almost inevitable that they would concede. That was the case in the 70th minute when a Rathfern forward broke through and scored although there was a hint of offside about it.
United were now up against it but they rallied with Scott Brashaw providing the leadership from midfield but Rathfern were not about to surrender their lead as they defended stoutly. The best chance fell to Tate who shot wide from close to the penalty spot. Greg Allison, a half time substitute, David Kelly and Gareth McMullan provided a more attacking focus with a string of free kicks being secured but none could be utilised to great effect.
The game was entering its final minute when United won a corner and up came goalkeeper Bryan McMullan to get on the end of cousin Stuart’s cross and head a superb equaliser.
This was not one of United’s better performances however they proved yet again that they have grit and determination. Next week they entertain local rivals Dromara Village in a Clarence Cup tie which has a 1.30pm kick off.
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