Newry City and Ballymena United played out an action-packed draw at The Showgrounds last night with City captain Richard Clarke grabbing the equaliser for Gerry Flynn’s men on the 90 minutes.
After Peter Kennedy had flashed a 25-yard free kick over the bar after just five minutes, Newry took the lead with Stephen Garrett finding the net three minutes later.
The former Linfield striker, a replacement for the injured Sean Friars, out-muscled the Ballymena defence to force his way into the right hand side of the area and slide the ball under a hesitant Alan Blayney.
Newry could well have doubled their lead on the quarter hour as they threatened to run away with the game.
But that seemed to stir the visitors into life and they duly levelled on 21 minutes with a stunning goal from new striking sensation Neil Teggart.
After picking up the ball from Gary Haveron’s pass, the forward cut inside Cullen Feeney and bent a superb shot past former Ballymena keeper Paul Murphy from 18 yards.
With just five minutes to go before the break, Roy Walker’s men nearly took the lead when Albert Watson headed Stuart King’s deep corner against the bar.
Davitt Walsh could only screw the rebound wide.
After Gary Haveron had twice gone close for United, he did finally get their second with nine minutes left on the clock.
King’s umpteenth corner of the match dropped right in the goalmouth and Haveron bundled it in with a suspicion of a foul on former Sky Blues keeper Murphy.
But Clarke grabbed a point for his side with just a minute left with a brilliant finish from 12 yards.
Ross Black’s corner was headed back across goal by Michael Collins, it wasn’t cleared properly by the Ballymena defence and Clarke lashed it into the top right hand corner.
Newry City: Murphy, King, Black, C. Feeney, E. Friars, Clarke, Garrett, Collins, Morgan, L. Feeney, Ferguson. Subs: Walsh, Anderson, Prigent, Keegan, Moran.
Ballymena United: Blayney, Wray, McClean, Haveron, Albert Watson, G. McDonnell, Kennedy, J. McDonnell, Teggart, Walsh, King. Subs: Picking, Hogan, Ward, Aidan Watson, McGinlay.
Referee: Trevor Moutray (Dundonald).