IRISH LEAGUE: Ballymena United see off Cliftonville challenge at the Showgrounds

Ballymena United's Tony Kane
Ballymena United's Tony Kane

Ballymena Utd 3 Cliftonville 2

Ballymena United got three all important league points on the board after a 3-2 win against Cliftonville at the Showgrounds.

Two penalties from Tony Kane and a Cathair Friel strike sealed the win for the Sky Blues, while Cliftonville hit back through David McDaid and Ross Lavery,

The home side started brightly with Johnny McMurray shooting straight at the keeper when we’ll placed.

A minute later Conor McCloskey shot wide when he should have done better.

In the ninth minute McMurray had another chance but he volleyed wide.

But it was Cliftonville who took the lead in the 22nd minute as Stephen Garrett’s cross from the right was side footed home by McDaid from close range.

The Reds had another chance through Jason McGuinness but his effort was well off target.

The second half started at a bright pace and United were level in the 60th minute through a Tony Kane penalty after McCloskey had been pulled down in the box by Eamonn Seydak.

In the 64th minute Cliftonville’s Thomas Cosgrove shot brushed the outside of the United post in the way past.

On 71 minutes United had a great chance to take the lead but Kyle Owens header from a throw-in was just off target.

Then in the 79th minute it was 2-1 to United as Friel grabbed his fifth goal in five games.

The striker beat his marker before his shot - which took a wicked deflection - ended up in the Cliftonville net.

It was 3-1 in the 84th minute as Kane slammed home his second penalty of the day after a Reds player handled in the box.

The Reds made it 3-2 in the 88th minute with substitute Lavery finishing well from the edge of the box.

Ballymena: Blayney, Kane, Owens, Thompson, McCloskey, Friel, Wallace, Ervin, Millar, McMurray, Loughran.

Subs: Glendinning, E Kane, Gage, McCaffrey.

Cliftonville: Mooney, McGovern, McGuinness, Curran, McDaid, Garrett, Seydak, Harkin, Winchester, J Donnelly, Cosgrove.

Subs: Bonnar, Hughes, Lavery, A Donnelly, G Donnelly.

Referee: A Hunter