Ballymena United floored as McIlmoyle leaves it late
Dungannon Swifts 2 Ballymena Utd 1
The Ballymena United supporters who controversially stayed at home made the right decision as their team slumped to yet another defeat at the hands of bogey opponents, Dungannon Swifts.
It seemed that Mark Surgenor might snatch a point for the Braidmen when he dispatched an equaliser with seven minutes remaining at Stangmore Park — but Ryan McIlmoyle, who had hit the first goal of the night to give Swifts the lead, pounced late in the day to secure a third win of the season for the Swifts over United.
But that must have been anticipated even by the United fans who obeyed the wishes of those who called for a boycott of the game in the wake of the £1,250 fine incurred by Ballymena after some supporters were deemed guilty by the IFA of racial chants on their previous visit.
Dungannon appeared eager to warm the hearts of their own supporters on a bitterly cold night and struck a vital blow when McIlmoyle hit a rasping left footer to open the scoring on five minutes.
There were chances for Swifts when Ryan Mullan and Jimmy Callacher both got in on goal but former Swifts keeper Dwayne Nelson made vital saves.
In the second half, after Timmy Adamson’s header was saved by Nelson, it was all Ballymena. Kevin Kelbie went close with a low shot and Gavin Taggart was denied by Darren Murphy’s block.
Mark Surgenor, who earlier sent the ball woefully over the home bar, made amends when a slick pass from Kelbie set him up. Cool and calm, Surgenor faced up to Swifts keeper Alvin Rouse before slipping the ball between his legs.
But a second strike from McIlmoyle with three minutes remaining, shooting past Nelson after a pass from Adamson, snatched all three points and Ballymena’s misery was complete when a second yellow meant Taggart saw red.
And, if the Stangmore anoraks are to be believed, this is an 11th win for Swifts in their last 12 meetings withUnited.
Dungannon Swifts: Rouse, Mullan, McMinn, McCaffrey, McClean, Callacher, McCafferty, Murphy, Ward, Adamson, McIlmoyle. Subs: Morgan, Coney, Emerson for Murphy 57, McCann for Callacher 57, McAliskey.
Ballymena United: Nelson, Smith, Colligan, Haveron, Albert Watson, Taggart, Muir, Surgenor, Smith, Kelbie, Lockhart. Subs: Stewart for Albert Watson 24, Anderson for Lockhart 13, Cushley for Smith 71, McConnell, Aidan Watson.
Referee: Keith Halliday (Bangor).