Ballymena United 1, Glentoran 3

Ballymena United.
Ballymena United.

Ballymena United’s miserable Danske Bank Premiership form continued as they lost to Glentoran at the Showgrounds.

The Sky Blues were always chasing the game after conceding two goals in a manic 90-second period within the opening 10 minutes, and although Tony Kane’s strike on the verge of half-time, Curtis Allen’s late clincher for Glentoran stretched Ballymena’s run in the league to just three nwins from their nlast 19 games.

Ballymena made two changes to the team which beat Cliftonville in the Irish Cup on Saturday, with Gary McCutcheon unavailable through work commitments - he was replaced by Darren Boyce - while Gary Thompson came in for Neal Gawley in midfield.

After a bright opening to the game from both sides, Glentoran stunned the home side with two goals inside two minutes.

The first came on 10 minutes when Glentoran took a quickly taken throw in on the left flank which saw Stephen McAlorum’s cross from the left flick off the head of Curtis Allen before being headed home by the in-rushing Stephen Gordon.

Ballymena were still coming to terms with that setback when they conceded against less than two minutes later.

Jim Ervin’s misplaced pass inside was picked up by Gordon who threaded a through ball to put David Scullion clear. The winger’s attempted chip appeared to be drifting over until keeper Tim Allen raised an outstretched hand above his head, taking much of the pace off the ball, which subsequently dropped into the net.

Ballymena attempted to find a way back into the game but were frustrated in their efforts until the 33rd minutes when Matthew Tipton’s through ball played Darren Boyce in down the right hand channel and he cut inside a defender before firing a fierce shiot which was parried behind by Elliott Morris.

From the resultant corner, Stephen McAlorum sliced clearance almost dropped into his own net but Nial Henderson was on the post to head behind for a corner.

Ballymena were almost the architects of their downfall once again on 36 minutes when McAlorum intercepted Tony Kane’s pass inside but his 25 yard shot was straight at Allen.

Ballymena came close to halving the deficit on 37 mnutes when, in a reversal of the free kick routine which brought both Ballymena goals at Solitude on Saturday, David Cushley tapped the ball to Tony Kane, whose swerving 25-yard shot was tipped onto the top of the net by Morris.

Kane took the resultant corner which saw Allan Jenkins head wide when well placed.

But Ballymena’s spell of pressure earned its reward a minute before the break when Stephen McBride’s cross from the left found its way to the back post where Tony Kane drilled home a low angled shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Glentoran missed a chance to regain their two-goal lead 12 minutes into the second half when Ervin misjudged the flight of a high ball, leaving McAlorum to run clear but he snatched at his shot and dragged it well wide of the far post.

Ballymena continued to try to find an equaliser with Cushley’s fierce shot from an acute angle palmed behind by Morris.

The Glens wasted an excellent chance to move further ahead on 71 minutes when Curtis Allen sliced his volley from a Niall Henderson cross wide of the mark when well placed.

But the east Belfast side wrapped up victory with five minutes left when Curtis Allen raced onto Gordon’s through ball and held off the challenge of Johnny Taylor before beating Tim Allen at his near post.

Ballymena United: Allen, Ervin, McNally (sub McAllister 52), Taylor, McBride, Kane, Jenkins, Thompson (sub McCaul 80), Cushley (sub Teggart 76), Boyce, Tipton. Subs (not used): Ruddy, Gawley.

Glentoran: Morris, Holland, Birney, Addis, McCullough, Gordon, McAlorum, Henderson (sub McCaffrey 76), Stewart, Scullion (sub McKee 89), Allen. Subs (not used): O’Hanlon, Calvert, Hogg.

Referee: Keith Kennedy (Lisburn).