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Ballymena United's two-goal hero Gary McCutcheon (Picture: Russell Pritchard/PressEye.com)

CLIFTONVILLE 3-4 BALLYMENA UNITED

THE Reds needed just seven minutes to take the lead when a stray Gavin Taggart backpass was pounced upon by Chris Scannell who duly tucked it past Aaron Kerr.

Ballymena levelled on 23 minutes, though, when an Alan Teggart pass split the home defence allowing Mark Surgenor to beat Ryan Brown one-on-one.

But just two minutes later Scannell struck again for Cliftonville after the Sky Blue defence failed to clear allowing him a header over Kerr into the top right hand corner.

United could have grabbed a second themselves in the first half only for a Gary McCutcheon header to be cleared off the line by Ryan Catney.

They did level on the hour, however, after former Reds midfielder Tony Kane dispatched a free-kick over the defensive wall and into the top right hand corner.

Once again, though, Cliftonville regained the lead almost immediately, this time through John Convery who made the most of a moment of confusion in the penalty area to stab the ball past Kerr.

However, in a gripping turn of events, United got back on level terms for a third time with 20 minutes remaining courtesy of a Gary McCutcheon finish from 12 yards.

This time there was to be no immediate response from Tommy Breslin's side and they were duly stunned four minutes from time when McCutcheon made the most of the space afforded him to secure victory for the visitors.

Cliftonville: Brown, Fleming, Seydak, Convery, Holland, Garrett, Catney, Caldwell, Stuart, C. Scannell, R. Scannell subs Johnston (replaced R. Scannell 63), McVeigh (not used), Gormley (replaced Garrett 84), R. Donnelly (not used), Steele (not used)

Ballymena United: Kerr, Kane, Vauls, Stewart, Taggart, McCutcheon, Jenkins, Teggart, Surgenor, Smith, Watson subs Gage (replaced Teggart 73), Murray (replaced Taggart 78), Baker (replaced Smith 54), Downey (not used), Woods (not used)

Tags:  Ballymena United  Cliftonville