H&W WELDERS 2 BALLYMENA 3
The Brothers Grimm would have struggled to write the story of this game.
Ballymena Utd., last season’s beaten Irish Cup finalists, came to the Welders as odds-on favourites.
They began with a swagger and Allan Jenkins might have scored on two occasions and Matty Tipton on another.
But the Welders rode their luck and on 35 minutes the Welders got a penalty when Chris Middleton was upended in the box by Craig Gardner.
Up stepped Welders top gun Michael McClellan to make it 35 goals for the season by scoring from the spot.
It was no more than the home side deserved and when McClellan made it 2-0 with a neat finish, after Mark Magennis had played him in, a major upset seemed possible.
The Welders held that lead until 11 minutes from time when Darren Boyce’s header gave Ballymena a faint ray of hope.
There were five minutes remaining when Matty Tipton, who had missed a penalty 15 minutes earlier, lashed in the equaliser off the bar.
Then in the fourth minute of added time, with extra time and even penalties seeming inevitable, United had one last throw of the dice.
Tony Kane fired a ball into the box it bobbed about without ever being properly cleared and fell finally to Gary Thompson who hammered home the winner.
H&W WELDERS: Dougherty; Beattie, Spence, Dickson, Armstrong; Deans, Harris (Devine 57), Davidson, Middleton; Magennis; McClellan. Sub: Devine.
BALLYMENA UTD. Allen; Ervin, McNally, Taylor (Munster 70), Gardner (Boyce 54); Gawley (McCutcheon 63), Thompson, Kane, Cushley; Jenkins, Tipton. Subs: Boyce; McCutcheon; Munster.
Referee: Ian McNabb (Bangor)