Tony Kane (42p)
Cathair Friel (57)

2

Gary Armstrong (84)

1

Cathair Friel extended Ballymena's lead in the second half (Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com)

SKY BLUES HANG ON TO CLAIM SHOWGROUNDS POINTS

Ballymena United picked up an important three points thanks to this defeat of bottom club Ballinamallard United at The Showgrounds.

The Sky Blues started brightly, coming close after three minutes when Conor McCloskey rose to connect with a Steven McCullough cross while, a little later, Jonathan McMurray stroked the ball just wide after getting past the visiting defence.

The Mallards might have found a way through themselves after 20 minutes when Jonathan Leddy forced a superb stop from Ross Glendinning with a free-kick with Shane McGinty's follow-up also being denied by the 'keeper.

However, Ballymena continued to look the more likely to score with Fra McCaffrey going close from a corner followed by a well struck McCloskey effort from long range before McMurray nodded a free-kick straight at Richard Brush.

The deadlock was eventually broken on 42 minutes when Tony Kane sent Brush the wrong way from the spot after Ryan McConnell was adjudged to have handled the ball after an initial effort from Kofi Balmer had come back off the crossbar.

Ballymena extended their advantage just before the hour mark. McCloskey played the ball through for McMurray with his shot on goal being touched over the line by Cathair Friel.

The Mallards never gave up, and deservedly pulled a goal back on 84 minutes after a low cross cut through the home defence allowing Gary Armstrong to knock the ball home at the back post.

BBC Sport NI coverage

Ballymena United: Glendinning, T. Kane, Owens, Friel, McCloskey, Balmer, Ervin, McCullough, McCaffrey, McKinney, McMurray subs McAlorum (not used), E. Kane (not used), Shevlin (replaced McCullough 86), Brennan (not used), McNeill (not used)

Ballinamallard United: Brush, McConnell, Smyth, McCann, Taheny, Burns, Leddy, McGinty, McCartney, Hutchinson, Martyn subs Owens (replaced Martyn 76), McLaughlin (not used), Armstrong (replaced McCartney 76), Curran (replaced Leddy 68), McKenna (not used)

Referee: Raymond Crangle

Attendance: 865