CIS Cup: Walton's winner is a bit special
Ballymena 0 Dungannon Swifts 1
An 82nd minute wonder strike from American Matt Walton breathed life into Dungannon Swifts' CIS Insurance Cup hopes at the Ballymena Showgrounds last night.
The long-haired blond fired a bombshell of a shot that had Paul Murphy grasping at thin air and means that Harry Fay's men suddenly find themselves in second spot in Group A.
Fay pounced to sign the striker from Washington last week and it paid immediate dividends with a goal to remember.
There was little else to excite a sparsely populated Showgrounds for most of a tepid encounter, Ballymena forcing the first chance of the game in the fifth minute but Paul Brown's header failed to trouble Dwayne Nelson in the visitors' goal.
As expected, Gary Haveron took over the captain's armband from the suspended Albert Watson, moving from the left midfield berth he took up against Glenavon on Saturday to take over in the middle of the park.
And he was to be kept busy as Dungannon held the upper hand, with the spark being provided by Shane McCabe and when he was unceremoniously halted in his tracks by Stuart King it earned the United winger a yellow card in the 21st minute.
From the free-kick, former Sky Blue favourite Shea Campbell sent a curling effort just wide of the mark and the striker was again at the centre of things when he caught Aaron Callaghan day dreaming.
After robbing the right-back he slipped the ball to the Mark Magennis at the edge of the box, but his effort flew just wide.
Murphy was scrambling across his line again 10 minutes before the break with Campbell trying his luck from another long-range free-kick and this time he just managed to stop the ball from squirming under his body.
The second-half started more brightly, a misplaced Craig McClean pass in the 46th minute leaving Haveron stranded and Campbell should have done better when he ran through free on goal, but could only find the keeper's body.
Two minutes later Nelson had to be on his toes at the other end when Garth Scates hammered a JP Gallagher clearance back towards goal and Aidan Watson's subtle deflection forced the keeper into a smart save.
Mark McAllister, who was being given the once over by Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood, had a chance to impress in the 63rd minute when released by Campbell, but he could only find the side-netting from a tight angle.
Substitute Stephen Lowry should also have done better eight minutes later, Aaron Callaghan and Mark Picking linking well on the right and when the latter crossed, Lowry was unable to divert the ball goalwards.
Harry Fay threw Walton on with 12 minutes to go to boost his attack and it bore fruit within four minutes with a goal that was as good as the match had been poor up to that point.
JP Gallagher's centre from Campbell's short corner was cleared by Aidan Watson only as far as Walton at the edge of the D and he took a touch before hammering an unstoppable shop past a helpless Murphy.
BALLYMENA UNITED: Murphy, Callaghan, McClean, Scates, Kelly, Haveron, Picking, Watson, Brown, Fitzgerald, King. Subs: Patrick, Wray, Reid, Lowry, O'Neill.
DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Nelson, McConkey, Gallagher, McMinn, Curran, McGinn, McCabe, McManus, Campbell, McAllister, Magennis. Subs: Hegarty, Friel, Fitzpatrick, Walton, Cunningham.
Referee: Colin Burns (Newtownabbey)