Ballymena United 2-0 Crumlin Star
By Paul Alexander
Ballymena United secured progression to the sixth round of the Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup on Saturday afternoon with a 2-0 win against Crumlin Star at the Ballymena Showgrounds.
The majority of opportunities in the opening half were crafted by the Braidmen. Cathair Friel cleared the crossbar with nearly ten minutes played before he was thwarted by visiting goalkeeper Paul Fisher after controlling Jim Ervin’s ball from the right.
A free-kick from about 20 yards out by Tony Kane was momentarily spilt by Fisher on 17 minutes. Although the stopper was able to recover and collect the ball. Right-back Reece Glendinning also went close when his volley hit the post as it dropped towards the surface.
Crumlin had a chance from a free-kick in the 25th minute of the goalless first half. Captain Barry McKervey opted for a shot, instead of a cross, but he couldn’t keep his set-piece below the bar.
Sky Blues centre-forward Friel had a further opportunity at the opposite end of the pitch when he nodded over a cross from the left by Steven McCullough. The hosts did put the ball in the net ten minutes before the half-time whistle. Ross Lavery fed the ball through to Andrew McGrory who was ruled offside by linesman Matthew Thornbury.
The away side came close four minutes after the break. Niall Murray returned the ball to McKervey whose strike was blocked. The left-winger continued to look dangerous in the 62nd minute but his eventual shot deflected off Ervin.
Ballymena went in front through Declan Carville on 66 minutes. Lavery delivered a corner from the right and it was headed in by the half-time substitute. Carville’s opener was followed by an identical corner two minutes later. Winger Lavery clipped the ball in from the right before it was nodded down by Leroy Millar and directed over by Friel.
McGrory tried to give United a second goal in the first minute of stoppage time although his effort was blocked by Aidan McNeill at close range. The home side would take a two-goal lead in the 93rd minute when Friel finished after Carville showed superb skill in the penalty area.
Ballymena United: Williamson, McCullough, Addis, Ervin, Reece Glendinning, Millar, Kelly (Carville, 46), T. Kane, McGrory, Friel, Lavery
Subs not used: Whiteside, Mayse, McGinty, Knowles, K. Kane, Winchester
Crumlin Star: Fisher, A. McNeill, Hawkins, McAuley, Lyons (Lambe, 84), J. McNeill, Trainor, McKervey, McBurney (McIlkenny, 74), O’Neill (Smyth, 75), Murray
Subs not used: Magill, Marley, Flood, Forbes
Referee: Mark Dillon (Banbridge)
In-Touch Man of the Match: Declan Carville (Ballymena)