EUROPA LEAGUE PLAY-OFF: Ballymena United qualify for Europe after beating Glenavon

Ballymena's Kevin Braniff celebrates after he fires his side into Europe
Ballymena's Kevin Braniff celebrates after he fires his side into Europe

Ballymena United are in the money after qualifying for the Europa League after seeing off Glenavon 2-1 at the Showgrounds on Friday night.

Goals from Cathair Friel and Kevin Braniff sealed the Sky Blues place in Europe for next season.

It was Glenavon who started brightly in the opening quarter of an hour and Joel Copper shot wide when he should have done better.

And then Cooper brought a good save from Ross Glendinning in the United goal in the 18th minute.

On 26 minutes Ballymena’s Cathair Friel was sent racing clear on goal, but he was pulled up for offside much to the anger of the home support.

The home side had a chance a few minutes later but Kyle Owens headed wide from a Tony Kane corner.

Glenavon could have taken the lead as the game headed towards half-time.

But Glendinning saved from James Gray and Ciaran Martyn. A great double save from the keeper.

The second half got off to a flying start and United took the lead in the 53rd minute.

Johnny McMurray found Friel and he finished well to give his side the advantage.

It could have been 2-0 a minute later but McMurray made a mess of a chance from close range.

It was 1-1 in the 66th minute with Rhys Marshall volleying home following an Andy Hall free-kick.

In the 72nd minute there was a huge chance for United. McMurray chased a lost cause successfully and squares to McKinney who somehow fires over from close range.

Hall then strikes the crossbar with a free kick in the 77th minute, before Glendinning blocked from Marshall.

Two minutes later it was 2-1 as United substitute Kevin Braniff hit a thunderbolt from 25 yards that flew past Tuffey in the Glenavon goal.

It was a wonderful finish from Braniff and it put United into the lead.

Glenavon pushed for an equaliser but United held on to claim a huge cash bonus.