IRISH LEAGUE: Ballymena United turn tables with victory over Glentoran

Glentoran's Fra McCaffrey with Ballymena's Eoin Kane
Glentoran's Fra McCaffrey with Ballymena's Eoin Kane


Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson celebrated his team’s first win of the season at the Oval.

Goals from 16 year old Matthew Shevlin, journeyman striker Mattie Tipton and new signing Willie Faulkner earned United three crucial Danske Premiership points.

But it was another horror show from Glentoran.

Even though Curtis Allen shot the East Belfast team early on, they were totally taken apart by the league’s basement club.

Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson reshaped his team following their unimpressive midweek win over PSNI, drafting in Calum Birney, David Howland, Fra McCaffrey, Stephen McAlorum and new signing from Glenavon Ciaran Caldwell.

Ballymena had skipper Jim Ervin back in action. He sat out an automatic one game ban following his dismissal against Carrick last weekend, while Michael Ruddy was also drafted in.

The home fans were on the feet acclaiming a goal after only seven minutes. Conor McMenamin shot against the post following a cross from Stephen McAlorum, but Allen was perfectly position to pick up the scraps.

But the Glens took less than 60 seconds to toss away their advantage. Shevlin tore into the heart of the defence before set-stepping goalkeeper Aaron Hogg and his finish was clinical.

In fact, it took brilliant save from Hogg on 12 minutes to save his team’s blushes. Shevlin was hacked down by Birney and David Cushley’s 20 yard free kick was heading to the top corner until by the big shot stopper got both hands to the effort.

Glentoran attempted to come back off the ropes with defender Barry Holland forcing United goalkeeper Dwayne Nelson into a splendid save on 27 minutes.

But it was United who should have forged in front three minutes later with Tipton blasting Eoin’s cross wildly over the crossbar. Young Shevlin then burst into action with a penetrating solo dash before picking out Ervin, who failed to get the better off the alert Hogg.

But Tipton delivered a wonderful finish six minutes before the break. Ervin was the architect and, when he picked out the former Linfield striker, he shot low into the bottom corner.

United were right out of luck in first half injury time. Ervin again found himself in acres of space and when he again found Tipton, he blasted over the top.

Hogg again rescued Glentoran on 55 minutes, getting down smartly to save at the feet of Shevlin following a brilliant run from Cushley.

When the ball broke kindly to the teenager, he wasted the chance by shooting wide.

Tipton should have increased his team’s lead on 63 minutes. He robbed a dithering Johnny Addis, but his chip was again superbly saved by that man Hogg.

But United got a deserved third 12 minutes from time. Tipton turned provider, teeing up Faulkner, and he brilliantly dinked the ball over Hogg.

Glentoran: Hogg, Kane, Holland, Birney, Howland, Allen (Scullion 51), McCaffrey (Gordon 83), McAlorum (Nelson 83), Addis, Caldwell, McMenamin.

Subs not used: Garrett, McCullough.

Ballymena United: Nelson, Ervin, Taylor, Roger (Thompson 73), Ruddy, Faulkner, Kane, Jenkins (Ferguson 83), Cushley (Millar 90), Tipton, Shevlin.

Subs not used: Henderson, Hanley.

Referee: R Hetherington (Dungannon).