Belfast Telegraph

Davy Munster holds his nerve as Ballymena beat Ballinallard

By Gareth Cauldwell

A late Davy Munster effort saw Ballymena seal their place in the Wasp Solutions League Cup final with a 3-2 win over Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park last night in an entertaining encounter.

Ballinamallard had dominated the early stages and deservedly led through Ryan Campbell's effort.

However, Ballymena equalised on the stroke of half-time through Allan Jenkins and took the lead early in the second half when Matthew Tipton fired home.

The game looked to be heading to extra-time when Campbell slotted home his second but Munster secured the victory for Ballymena, firing home in the 88th minute.

Ballinamallard were quickly out of the blocks with Liam Martin a lively presence in the Mallards attack from the off as both Mark Stafford and Campbell blazed over the bar with long range efforts.

And with 20 minutes on the clock, the home side were to take the lead.

Stuart Hutchinson's sweeping ball from the centre of the park picked out Chris Crilly and the full-back fed the ball into Campbell on the edge of the box. With his back to goal, Campbell controlled the ball before turning and drilling a low shot to the bottom corner of the net, much to the delight of the home support.

Boosted by this, Ballinamallard continued to press with Johnny Lafferty heading over before Martin had a shot saved by Stuart Addis in the Ballymena goal.

In the final 15 minutes of the half, the away side finally began to settle and they had an appeal for handball against Stafford waved away by referee Raymond Hetherington.

Ballinamallard remained threatening and Martin was inches away from doubling the home side's advantage in the 42nd minute as he raced onto Lafferty's flick on but his attempt rolled agonisingly just the wrong side of the post.

Ballymena, though, hit back in added-on time at the end of the half as Jenkins sent the sides in level at the interval.

Neal Gawley crossed for Tipton and although his shot was saved by Mallards goalkeeper Stefan McCusker, Jenkins was on hand to fire to the net.

Lifted by the goal, Ballymena made a bright start to the second-half and McCusker was forced into a good stop from a well struck Gawley free-kick.

And Glenn Ferguson's side took the lead on the hour mark through Tipton. Ballinamallard failed to clear a corner with McCusker saving twice before Tipton hit the post and when the ball rebounded to him, he tucked it into the corner.

However, the Mallards were back on level terms eight minutes later as a neat build-up resulted in Hutchinson playing the ball into Campbell and he produced a good turn and shot to find the corner.

It was turning into an end to end game and McCusker was once more called on to save the Mallards as he denied Darren Boyce.

Martin had a chance to put the home side back in front in the 84th minute but he hesitated and it allowed Addis to get out to make the block.

The winner, though, was to arrive two minutes from time as Munster got on the end of a free-kick and finished to the back of the net.

Belfast Telegraph

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