Ballymena United's title hopes dashed by Glentoran at the Showgrounds
Ballymena United 0 Glentoran 2
Ballymena United's title ambitions were dealt a hammer blow on Saturday as they lost 2-0 to Glentoran at the Showgrounds.
Goals from Paul O'Neill and Robbie McDaid sealed the points for the Glens while United will have to look over their shoulders as Crusaders close the gap on them in the league table.
It was a poor afternoon at the office for United but injuries have left them with very few options as the season comes into the business end.
It was a shock to the home support when the Glens took the lead in the third minute when Paul O'Neill pounced to score. It would not have been the start United manager David Jeffrey would have wanted.
The game then became a scrappy affair with both sides struggling with the conditions but the Glens were looking the more switched on as the game entered the 28th minute.
Glentoran's Christopher Gallagher tried his luck in the 29th minute. His shot had power but lacked accuracy as it flew wide of the United goal.
Curtis Allen then had a chance in the 32nd minute. His shot failing to trouble United keeper Ross Glendinning.
Three minutes from the break Robbie McDaid had a deflected chance and Glendinning did well to push it over the bar.
Two minutes after the break United had a great chance. A cross field ball fell to Conor Quigley whose shot was well saved by keeper Elliott Morris,
Seconds later McDaid went close again for the Glens but his chance was off target with Glendinning scrambling.
United's Albert Watson then went close in the 50th minute. His cross missed everyone but missed the Glens goal by a whisker.
United were all energy and hustle but they were failing to trouble the Glens goal.
It was 2-0 in the 60th minute as McDaid ran clear of the United defence to slot the ball past the advancing Glendinning and the Sky Blues now had a mountain to climb.
United's Jonathan McMurray then turned and shot from the edge of the box but Morris pushed the ball past for a corner.
With 22 minutes left the Glens were starting to waste time as Morris took an age to do anything in the Glentoran goal.
The Glens were then reduced to ten men as James McCarthy was sent-off for a physical challenge in the 72nd minute.
United huffed and puffed in the final stages but they could not find a way past the Glens rearguard.
Ballymena: Glendinning, Quigley, Whiteside (McGinty 76mins), McCullough (Kane 66 mins), McGrory, Balmer (Mayse 66mins), Ervin, Lecky, Millar, McMurray, Watson.
Subs not used: Williamson, Addis, Burns, Shevlin.
Glentoran: Morris, Kane, Peers, Gallagher, Herron, Allen, McDaid, Kerr, McCarthy, O'Neill (Gordon 77mins), Gwiazda
Subs not used: McMahon, Henderson, S Gallagher, Smith, McLaughlin, Wallace.
Referee: S Andrews