Cliftonville 1-1 Ballymena United
By Paul Alexander
Cliftonville and Ballymena United could not be separated in the Danske Bank Premiership as they drew 1-1 at Solitude on a windy Saturday afternoon in north Belfast.
This was the first time the two teams had met since the County Antrim Shield final and a game which saw the home side drop points in the title race, whilst the visitors ended a run of seven consecutive league defeats.
There was a lack of noteworthy opportunities throughout the opening half of the match. The Sky Blues had an aerial opening in the early stages although centre-back Jonny Addis headed wide of the right post.
Conor McMenamin had a chance for the hosts after 29 minutes. The 24-year-old produced a strike from about 20 yards out, on the right, but United stopper Ross Glendinning made the save.
Ballymena went in front during the minute which followed. Leroy Millar gave the ball to Adam Lecky, who was in a central position, before continuing to advance forward. Lecky then returned the ball to Millar who slotted across goal to separate the two sides at half-time.
Visiting left-back Steven McCullough tried to secure an assist eight minutes after the restart but his low ball across the penalty area was taken by Richard Brush in the home goal. At the opposite end of the pitch, substitute Ryan Curran showed some good work on the left although his low shot was held by Glendinning.
In the 68th minute, Joe Gormley would bring the Reds level. Chris Curran’s cross from the right fell to Gormley whose effort came off the right post and nestled in the other side of the net.
Curran came close to recording a second assist of the afternoon on 81 minutes. The Cliftonville captain supplied McMenamin although Glendinning did well to tip the resulting attempt over the crossbar. Seconds later United’s McCullough tried a shot across goal which was palmed behind by Brush.
Cliftonville: Brush, Donnelly, Breen, McDermott, Foster (Rocks, 62), McCrudden (McKiernan, 86), Doherty, C. Curran, McMenamin, McCurry (R. Curran, 56), Gormley
Subs not used: Dunne, Wilson, Casey, Spencer
Ballymena United: Ross Glendinning, McCullough, Addis, Whiteside, Reece Glendinning, Millar, Harpur (Knowles, 63), Winchester, T. Kane, McCready, Lecky
Subs not used: Williamson, Friel, K. Kane, Andrew Burns, Balmer, Owens
Referee: Lee Tavinder
In-Touch Man of the Match: Ross Glendinning (Ballymena)