Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena United reach last four of League Cup

By Ian Callender

Ballymena held off a second-half fightback from Dungannon Swifts to reach the last four of the League Cup, Darren Boyce's late goal settling the outcome.

United's second goal from Neal Gawley was fit to win any match and boss Glenn Ferguson will be hoping this victory will inspire his side to return to winning ways in the Premiership, where they have lost their last five games.

For 20 minutes, the game was as dire as the weather. But it burst into life on 20 minutes when a speculative overhead kick by Gawley found Matthew Tipton, he laid it into the path of Tony Kane who ran onto the ball, just inside the area, and gave Andy Coleman in the Dungannon goal no chance.

It was Coleman who prevented United from doubling their lead five minutes later - twice. First he saved from David Cushley at his near post before Tipton forced the keeper into a full-length save to his right.

But United would not be denied in the 34th minute. Skipper Allan Jenkins played a superb 50-yard pass to Kane on the right touchline and he helped it on another 30 yards to Gawley, who produced the finish the build-up deserved.

If Ballymena had any thought of a straightforward success, they were dashed four minutes before the interval by the concession of a soft penalty, when Davy Munster brought down Andrew Mitchell. Ryan Harpur blasted home.

The visitors were dealt a hammer blow on 70 minutes when Harpur had to be replaced after a clash of heads but they refused to give up and only Nelson knows how David Armstrong's header from a corner stayed out after it bounced down off the crossbar.

It was to be their last chance because, seven minutes from time, substitute Boyce rifled in an unstoppable shot.

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