IRISH LEAGUE: Kyle Owens and Willie Faulkner strike as Ballymena United beat Carrick Rangers

Ballymena's Cathair Friel 'and Carrick's Stephen McCullough'during Saturday's match
Ballymena's Cathair Friel 'and Carrick's Stephen McCullough'during Saturday's match

Ballymena United 2 Carrick Rangers 0

Goals from Kyle Owens and Willie Faulkner sealed a hard fought Danske Bank Premiership win for Ballymena United against Carrick Rangers at the Showgrounds on Saturday.

It was not a game for the faint hearted and both sides did not play to their best but United got the two goals and the three points to stay third in the league standings.

Carrick had the first chance of the game in the second minute but Marty Murray’s shot was pushed away by Ballymena keeper Ross Glendinning.

Seven minutes later United had their opening effort of the encounter as Tony Kane blazed his shot just wide from 25 yards.

Then Ballymena defender Johnny Flynn had to go off in the 13th minute through injury and he was replaced by Eoin Kane.

United had a great chance to score before the break. Carrick defender Paddy McNally completely missed the ball for Johnny McMurray to race clear.

His pull back was cleared straight back to him by the Carrick defence but his shot was then scrambled clear by Brian Neeson in the Carrick goal.

The visitors started the second half brightly and Steven McCullough burst forward but his shot was deflected wide in the 52nd minute.

United’s McMurray had a chance in the 58th minute but he shot off target after a ball from Cathair Friel.

Ballymena had another chance in the 74th minute but Eoin Kane’s shot was deflected wide.

It was 1-0 to the Sky Blues in the 77th minute as Kyle Owens fired home from close range after Allan Jenkin’s header from a corner had rebounded off the bar.

The three points were sealed for the Sky Blues in the 90th minute as Faulkner raced clear to rifle his side’s second of the game.

Ballymena United: Glendinning, T Kane, Owens, Flynn (13 mins) E Kane, Gage, Jenkins, Faulkner, Friel, Wallace, Ervin, McMurray (Millar, 75mins).

Subs not used: McAuley, Henderson, Loughran.

Carrick Rangers: Neeson, Chapman (Lavery 83 mins), Surgenor, McNally, McCullough, Wilson (Taggart, 83 mins), M Murray (Hanley, 56 mins), TJ Murray, McNicholl, Rice, Salley.

Subs not used: Kelly, Taggart, Morrow.

Ref: S Taylor.