GLENTORAN…1 Morris, Nixon, Glendinning, Simpson, McGibbon, Holmes, Browne, Melaugh, McCann, Halliday (sub Morgan 75), Parkhouse. Subs (not used): Berry, Ward. BALLYMENA UNITED…2 McFrederick, Donaghy, Boyd, Haveron, Albert Watson, Smyth, King, Hamill (sub Aidan Watson 79), Sweeney (sub Kelbie 46), Scates, Rosbotham. Sub (not used): Simms. Referee: Trevor Moutray (Dundonald) Goals: Sweeney 12 (0-1); Halliday 17 (1-1); Kelbie 87
IT was Linfield last season, now Ballymena United have ended their long-standing 'hoodoo' at both Belfast 'Big Two' grounds.
Unlikely hero Kevin Kelbie, by a wonderful irony released by Glentoran to join Ballymena in August grabbed the winner three minutes from time to give United their first victory at the Oval for eight years.
Ballymena grabbed a 12th minute lead when Andrew Rosbotham's pinpoint free kick was bundled home at the back post by Sweeney – a goal which means that the burly frontman has already surpassed United's pitiful top goalscorer tally of seven from last season - but the Glens were level within five minutes when Michael Halliday headed home Shaun Holmes' cross.
But a decent-szied travelling support went into raptures in the 87th minute when substitute Kelbie dived full-length to poke Stuart King's stunning cross past Elliott Morris.
"I asked for a reaction after the embarrassment at Portadown and I think we got it," said delighted Sky Blues boss Tommy Wright.
"The best thing is that our victory was fully deserved – I can't remember William McFrederick having a save to make and that's a rarity when you come to the Oval.
"Kevin has been unlucky with injuries since he came and the form of Rory Hamill and Vinny Sweeney has kept him out of the team
"I've been telling the players that they're not a bad side and I genuinely think that Portadown was one of those nights that we can write off as a genuine off-night where too many mistakes were made."