Ballymena United 1, Dungannon Swifts 0

Ballymena United.
Ballymena United.

Ballymena United finished the Danske Bank Premiership campaign with a club record total of 51 points after winning their sixth straight game.

Allan Jenkins’ close range finish in the first half was enough to settle a tame final day encounter at the Warden Street Showgrounds.

A stiff breeze and bobbly playing surface made for an error-ridden opening period to the game with several overhit crosses drifting harmlessly out of play.

Ballymena came close on 16 minutes when Darren Boyce’s teasing cross was headed behind from virtually under his own crossbar by defender David Armstrong.

From from the resultant corner, whipped in by David Cushley, Tony Kane got a flick and Allan Jenkins was on hand to bundle home at the back post.

Little was seen of Dungannon as an attacking force and it took 25 minutes for the visitors to have a meaningful attempt at goal as Stefan Lavery turned cleverly 25 yards frm goal but his shot lacked the power to trouble Dwayne Nelson.

Ballymena almost doubled their advantage in comedy fashion on 27 minutes when keeper Andy Coleman’s hurried clearance from a back-pass cannoned off the in-rushing Darren Boyce with the ball landing on top of the roof of the net.

Dungannon came within a whisker of levelling on the half-hour when Jarlath O’Rourke’s cross from the left was met with a back post header by Andy Mitchell, whose effort clipped the top of the crossbar on its way over.

United came close again on 36 minutes when keeper Nelson’s long clearance found its way to Darren Boyce. The striker took a perfect touch to set himself through on goal but then screwed his shot wide of the target.

On the stroke of half-time Davy Munster almost marked his final United appearance with a goal as his flashing header from another wind-assisted Cushley corner was brilliantly turned behind by Coleman.

Early in the second half Stefan McMaster’s speculative shot for Dungannon didn’t appear to have any menace until it took a wicked deflection which forced Nelson to back-pedal to catch the spinning ball.

Then Andy Mictehll’s rising shot went just wide of the taregt as the Swifts pressed for an equaliser, while CUshley’s spectacular volley drifted wide of the far post.

Substitute Jamie Douglas came close to levelling for the visitors when his free kick was flicked over the bar by Nelson.

At the other end, CUshley forced Coleman to block a well struck shot in the closing minutes, while there was a standing ovation for the retiring Munster as he was replaced by Kyle McVey in stoppage time.

Ballymena United: Nelson, Kane, Ervin, Munster (sub McVey 90+2), Ruddy, McAllister (sub Gawley 67), Surgenor, Thompson, Cushley, Boyce (sub Nixon 64), Jenkins. Subs (not used): Gardiner, McNeill.

Dungannon Swifts: Coleman, McCullough, Brennan, Armstrong, O’Rourke, Hutchinson, McMaster (sub Douglas 58), Hazley, Sanusi (sub Glackin 58), Lavery, Mitchell (sub Liggett 64). Subs (not used): Harpur, Wilson.

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus).