IRISH LEAGUE: Ballymena’s entertainers edge out Swifts

Ballymena's Caolan Loughran(centre) celebrates scoring the winning goal.

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Ballymena's Caolan Loughran(centre) celebrates scoring the winning goal. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Ballymena United, the entertainers, struck again on a Saturday with a typically topsy-turvy victory.

They edged out Dungannon Swifts 3-2 at the Showgrounds, Tony Kane setting up two and netting a penalty while new signing Joe McKinney looked right at home.

Kris Lowe’s second league goal of the season separated the sides at the break, Dungannon going in ahead. He lashed a 14th minute effort in off the underside of the crossbar.

It came as a reward for Dungannon’s slick football in the opening minutes - as flowing as could be expected on such a saturated surface anyway.

They had the ball in the net again on 34 but Ryan Harpur’s follow-up on a saved Chris Hegarty effort was rightly ruled out for offside.

Ballymena had struggled in the opening exchanges and hadn’t threatened - bar a Cathair Friel effort that summoned only a routine save from Andy Coleman.

Then Joe McKinney, making his debut after his transfer from Ards, really gave the keeper something to think about. He forced a smart stop, saw a close range effort deflected over and headed the resulting corner over the bar all shortly before half-time.

The game exploded into life in the second period as a renewed Ballymena ran riot. They had reversed the scoreline within 12 minutes, Kyle Owens netting with a deft header on a Tony Kane cross.

Kane got his customary penalty goal from the spot - his 16th goal of the season - to give the hosts the lead.

However, with Ballymena, three goals is never likely to be the end and Dungannon levelled through the league’s top scorer Andrew Mitchell. He seized on a scuffed goal-kick and rolled an effort past Ross Glendinning. That was stopped by the mucky goalmouth by the striker persevered.

Alas for the visitors, so did Ballymena. After Glendinning had made amends with a top savee from Ryan Harpur, Caolan Loughran joined his centre-back partner on the score-sheet, getting on the end of a cross from, guess who? Tony Kane.

It’s now 107 goals in Ballymena’s 25 league games this season. Like a few goals? Get down to the Showgrounds.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Glendinning, Kane, Owens, Taggart (Jenkins 73), Faulkner, Friel, Ervin, Millar, McKinney, McMurray, Loughran.

Subs: Flynn, McCloskey, McCaffrey, McCracken

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Coleman, Hegarty, Wilson, Armstrong, Mitchell (Lavery 72), Harpur, O’Rourke, McElroy (Teggart 79), Lowe, Glackin, Burke (Clucas 59).

Subs: Addis, Burns