Johnny Addis and Cormac Burke battle for possession (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)
Saturday, 12 January 2019
Ballymena United twice surrendered the lead against Dungannon Swifts at The Showgrounds to ultimately settle for a point as the visitors ended the game with ten men.
A bright start to the game with action at both ends almost saw a breakthrough on 23 minutes when Johnny McMurray beat the offside trap to crash an effort off the post with Swifts keeper Alex Moore beaten.
The sides traded chances just after the half-hour mark. Chris Hegarty tried to flick a Mark Patton free-kick past Ross Glendinning but the keeper did well to save to his right before play switched for McMurray to find space only to send the ball just wide of the right post.
The deadlock was broken in Ballymena's favour on 41 minutes, however, when McMurray laid the ball off for Jude Winchester to direct it past Moore.
The Swifts did have the ball in the net just after the hour but Grant Hutchinson's goal was ruled out after the referee spotted an infringement in the build up.
However, moments later Dungannon did equalise when Daniel Hughes intercepted a poor Scot Whiteside backpass to get the ball past Glendinning from a narrow angle.
Dungannon were reduced to ten men a few minutes after that following Douglas Wilson's straight red card for a challenge on Jim Ervin.
Then, on 75 minutes, United regained the advantage through Cathair Friel after he showed his poachers instinct to meet an Adam Lecky knockdown and squeeze the ball past Hegarty and Moore.
Yet back came the Swifts again barely two minutes later when some slack defending saw Paul McElroy's shot break for Oisin Smyth to fire beyond Glendinning.
Both sides could have won it late in the game. Whiteside almost atoned for his earlier effort with a looper header onto the roof of the net.
Then, in the dying seconds, McElroy got past defender Steven McCullough and was denied only by Glendinning's outstretched leg.
Ballymena United: Glendinning, Kane, Addis, Whiteside, Friel, Knowles, McCullough, Winchester, Ervin, Lecky, McMurray subs Williamson (not used), Mayse (not used), McGinty (replaced Whiteside 88), Faulkner (not used), Balmer (not used), Millar (replaced Knowles 67), Harpur (replaced McMurray 57)
Dungannon Swifts: Moore, Hegarty, Wilson, Armstrong, Clucas, Hughes, McElroy, Burke, Teggart, O'Rourke, Patton subs Moran (not used), Dykes (not used), McGinty (not used), Hutchinson (replaced Clucas 55), Lafferty (replaced Patton 79), Campbell (not used), Smyth (replaced Burke 77)
Referee: Tim Marshall