There was a lot at stake last Wednesday night when second placed Ballymena made the long trip to third placed Ballee in the latest round of games in the NIPGL Midweek Division 2.
It turned out to be an excellent night for the visitors who returned home with five and a half of the seven points on offer.
Billy McCandless, Tommy Crooks, Norman Armstrong and Peter Millar were drawn against T Hughes and with 5 ends played the Braid men held a 2 shot advantage. The game continued to be close and at the half way stage there was nothing to separate the 2 rinks with scores level at 9-9.
The game however changed over the next 5 ends as Ballee took control. During this time they picked up a total of 11 shots without reply and with only 4 ends left the Braid men had given themselves a mountain to climb. Both rinks won 2 of the remaining 4 ends with the home rink claiming victory by 26 shots to 13.
John Montgomery, John Houston, Liam Lyness and Robert Mark enjoyed their game against G Bryce and a brace of 2’s got the Braid men up and running. The home rink replied with 2 singles but the remainder of the game belonged to Mark’s men. They picked up a single on the 5th end and then on the next end they doubled their score when they collected a count of 5 shots to lead by 10 shots to 2.
Ballee added another single to their score on the 7th end but there was no stopping the Braid men and over the next 5 ends they doubled their score again to increase their advantage to 17 shots. The closing ends were closer but the visitors were still able to outscore the home rink to win the game by a margin of 20 shots, 25-5.
Keith Burnett, Dessie Shaw, Allen Stewart and Paul Davidson were quickly out of the blocks against H Porter and with 3 ends played they led 4-0. The home rink replied with 2 singles but the Ballymena men picked up another 8 shots over the next 4 ends to open up a 10 shot advantage. The second half however was a different story.
Ballee picked up 6 shots between the 10th and 13th ends to cut the margin to only four but the Braidmen steadied the ship with a count of 4 shots on the next end to lead by 8 shots with only 4 ends left to play. Unfortunately, that was the last time the visitors would score and the home rink finished strongly with 2 singles and 2 threes to level the game at 16-16.
Roy Kernohan, Andy Hill, George Stewart and Jim Cameron took a little time to settle against J Strain and with 4 ends completed they trailed 6-2. The Braid men played themselves back in to the game over the next 6 ends when they outscored the home rink by 8 shots to 1 to hold a 3 shot advantage. Over the next 7 ends the 2 rinks shared 10 shots and so going in to the last end the Ballymena men still held a 3 shot lead. Ballee won the final end but they could only pick up a single shot to leave Ballymena victorious by 15-13.