It was a case of what could have been for the Sky Blues as they almost snatch a late draw against Linfield.
Ballymena battled hard and if not for a 94th minute goal clearance denying Tony Kane, they would have got what they deserved.
But it was Linfield who went on to record their seventh win on the road in the Danske Bank Premiership.
First half goals from Stephen Lowry, Sammy Morrow and Andy Waterworth helped claim a 3-2 victory at the Showgrounds.
Ballymena captain Allan Jenkins also scored in the first half, while Matt Tipton provided a grandstand finish with a re-spotted penalty in the 70th minute after Mark McCullagh had been fouled in the box.
Lowry opened the scoring in the seventh minute with a simple finish from eight yards.
Morrow made it 2-0 one minute later when he headed home Aaron Burns’ corner.
Jenkins cut the deficit in the 25th minute when he lobbed Ross Glendinning after being played in by Matt Tipton.
Linfield responded with Waterworth’s goal in the 38th minute, the striker dispatching a low drive past Stuart Addis.
Ballymena were offered a lifeline in the 69th minute when they were awarded a penalty following a push on McCullagh inside the box.
Tipton’s initial effort was saved by Ross Glendinning, but referee Ross Dunlop ordered the penalty to be retaken following encroachment in the area.
Tipton held his nerve to slot past Glendinning into the bottom corner.
The Sky Blues almost snatched a draw in the 94th minute, but Tony Kane’s header was cleared off the line by Burns.
United manager Glenn Ferguson was impressed with those players who came into the side, he said: “We let them get too many crosses in the box during the opening minutes and it proved very costly.
“I was pleased with our second half performance, but sadly we didn’t get anything out of it.
“We could very easily have crumbled and lost four or 5-0. But the lads responded and fought back.
“I thought the players who came in and did well. It was good experience for them all against a side like Linfield.
“The younger players stepped up to the plate and this will stand them in good stead.
Addis, T. Kane, McCullagh, Taylor, McBride, Gawley, Thompson (E. Kane 78), Jenkins, Ferguson (Surgenor 63), Tipton, Teggart (Boyce 67).
Subs not used: Ruddy, Kane, Graham.