Ballymena battle back to earn stunning draw

Ballymena United's David Cushley is denied by Lisburn Distillery's Billy Brennan
Ballymena United's David Cushley is denied by Lisburn Distillery's Billy Brennan


Ballymena United produced an amazing comeback from 3-0 down to grab a draw in an extraordinary match at the Showrounds.

Mark Surgenor’s injury time equaliser prevented a seventh straight league defeat for the Sky Blues and kept the Whites on the foot of the Danske Bank Premiership.

Distillery had belied their bottom-of-the-table status with a neat first half performance, underpinned by two goals.

The Whites went ahead eight minutes before the break when United defender Aaron Stewart lost his footing on the sideline, allowing Gary Liggett to break clear on the right before squaring for Jordan Hughes to slot past Dwayne Nelson.

The visitors doubled their advantage in first half stoppage time when Scott Davidson intercepted Gary Thompson’s pass in midfield before slipping a pass into the path of Liggett, who beat Nelson with a crisp, low finish.

It became 3-0 four minutes after the restart when Halliday’s cross was half-cleared as far as Hughes who steered the ball back past Nelson from 15 yards.

Ballymena’s response was quick with Gavin Taggart firing home a shot from 22 yards which Whites keeper Billy Brennan could only help into the net.

Taggart’s next contribution was less positive as he was sent off for needlessly kicking out at Ryan McCann.

Distillery were also reduced to 10 men soon afterwards after left-back Aaron Traynor was red-carded following a flare-up with Tony Kane.

Ballymena pulled a second goal back when David Cushley eventually blasted high into the net after Brennan had brilliantly kept out the winger’s two initial efforts.

Brennan performed heroics in injury time in keeping out a header from his opposite number Nelson, up for a corner, but from another corner, the ball was forced home by Suurgenor to earn the home side a point.

Ballymena United: Nelson, Kane, Munster (sub Duffin 46), Stewart (sub Rodgers 39), Black, Taggart, Surgenor, Thompson, Cushley, Jenkins, Teggart. Subs (not used): Gillan, Bingham, McCabe.

Lisburn Distillery: Brennan, Smyth, Ferguson, McVeigh, Traynor, McCullough, Davidson, McCann, Hughes, Liggett, Halliday. Subs (not used): Hunter, Hall, Fagan, Withers, Beggs.

Referee: David Malcolm (Bangor)