Ballymena’s Jonathan McMurray pounces late to sink Glenavon

Andy McGrory following his goal for Ballymena against former club Glenavon.
Andy McGrory following his goal for Ballymena against former club Glenavon.

Super-sub Jonathan McMurray came off the bench in the 84th minute and scored the winner for Ballymena United at the very death in a 2-1 win over Glenavon at the Showgrounds.

McMurray had replaced the tiring Cathair Friel late in the game and the striker headed home the winner from a Tony Kane cross.

Ballymena's Johnny McMurray celebrates scoring the winner  for Ballymena against Glenavon.

Ballymena's Johnny McMurray celebrates scoring the winner for Ballymena against Glenavon.

United had taken the lead in the first half through Andy McGrory before Mark Sykes equalised for the visitors and then came McMurray’s late, late decisive goal.

In the pouring rain it was Glenavon who had the first attack of the night in the opening minute. Andrew Hall’s free-kick was easily dealt with by United keeper Ross Glendinning.

League leaders Glenavon were moving the ball around well in the opening five minutes as they zipped the ball around the greasy surface - but striker Friel was looking lively for the home side.

In the seventh minute Hall’s effort was well saved by Glendinning.

A minute later is was 1-0 to the Sky Blues. Adam Lecky found Friel. His cross was knocked in by William Faulkner for McGrory to make it two goals in two matches.

It was the defender’s fourth goal of the season and the home supporters knew they had a game on our hands.

More good work followed from Ballymena in the 21st minute. Lecky and Faulkner combined before the Glenavon defence recovered to clear the danger.

Glenavon’s Stephen Murray went close in the 31st minute, the striker’s effort being deflected wide by the United defence.

United had another chance in the 36th minute. Friel found Lecky who took a touch when he should have shot and the chance was lost.

As the rain continued to pour down it was Glenavon who started the second half brightly as they tried to get themselves back in the match.

United on the other hand had started the second period slowly but then in the 54th minute Faulkner found Leroy Millar and his flick was just off target.

In the 63rd minute Glenavon brought on former Ballymena winger Conor McCloskey for Andrew Hall who had made little impression on the game.

It was 1-1 in the 73rd minute as Sykes found a lovely finish but United manager David Jeffrey was far from happy as he was waiting to bring on Jude Winchester for the injured Faulkner.

It was a fine finish from the midfielder, who must be closing in on a move to full-time football in the coming months.

The game was becoming scrappy with Glenavon pumping the ball forward and Ballymena defending in numbers. United had another chance in the 85th minute. Substitute McMurray fed Lecky but Jonathan Tuffey saved his effort.

McCloskey then tried his luck for the Lurgan Blues. His effort however flew just wide.

But it was 2-1 right at the death as Kane floated in a cross and sub McMurray headed home to give the home side the lead for the second time in the game.

The fourth official signalled an extra three minutes as Ballymena would tried to hold out, which they did for a precious three points. Glenavon will now look to get back on track.

Ballymena United: Ross Glendinning, Addis, Whiteside, Friel (McMurray 84mins), Knowles (Kane 77mins), McCulllough, Faulkner (Winchester 74mins), McGrory, Ervin, Lecky, Millar.

Subs not used: McCauley, Nolan, Reece Glendinning, Umar.

Glenavon: Tuffey, King, Marron, Daniels, Marshall, Mitchell (Jenkins 74mins), Sykes, Hall (McCloskey 63mins), Murray, Singleton, Doherty.

Subs not used: Grace, Donnelly, Harmon, Clingan Muir.

Ref: A Davey