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Ballymena leave it late to make pressure count against H&W Welders

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 On target: Ballymena's Gary Thompson finally breaks the Welders' resolve last night to set up a sixth round clash against Linfield

On target: Ballymena's Gary Thompson finally breaks the Welders' resolve last night to set up a sixth round clash against Linfield

Photo-William Cherry/Presseye

On target: Ballymena's Gary Thompson finally breaks the Welders' resolve last night to set up a sixth round clash against Linfield

GARY Thompson earned a visit to his old club Linfield in the sixth round of the Irish Cup as Ballymena finally killed off the challenge of H&W Welders.

The Championship 1 side gave as good as they got at the Showgrounds but Glenn Ferguson's men finally showed their quality in a tight 1-0 win.

Thompson was on hand to fire home with just 15 minutes left on the clock, as the game looked destined for extra-time.

It was the visitors who made a bright start to the game and they might have scored on three separate occasions in the early exchanges.

Stephen Cockcroft's deliveries from the left flank, in particular, were causing Ballymena all sort of problems.

It was his cross which provided Mark Magennis with a clear sight of goal on eight minutes, but the former Linfield midfielder flashed his effort well wide from 10 yards.

Three minutes later and Cockcroft again the provider as his free-kick from the right flank was met by Matty Burrows, who forced a corner with a near post header.

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As the Welders continued to press, Magennis came within inches of opening the scoring with an audacious volley from all of 30 yards.

The Welders began the second half with plenty purpose, just as they had the first period, and Josh Cahoon saw his right wing cross fizz across the face of goal four minutes after the restart.

Gradually, the home side stamped their authority on the game and began to threaten Lee Windrum in the Welders' goal.

In the 57th minute, David Cushley tried his luck after cutting in from the left flank and unleashing a dipping effort which Windrum had to be quick to turn away from a corner.

From the resulting set-piece, Surgenor saw his close-range effort blocked by William Armstrong in the Welders rearguard.

Defender Mark McCullagh thought he had broken the deadlock for Ballymena soon after, only to see his header, from Ally Teggart's corner, thunder back off the crossbar.

Then, in the 67th minute, Gary Thompson released Teggart but he could only shot wide under pressure from defender Gareth Beattie.

At this stage Ballymena were beginning to turn the screw and David Cushley came within a whisker of breaking the deadlock with a swerving half volley, which ended up just wide of Windrum's right hand post.

Fifteen minutes from time and it was United's best move of the match which finally yielded the first goal of the contest.

A neat exchange between Gary Thompson and Michael McLellan, who had just come off the bench, sent Thompson clear on the edge of the box and he coolly slotted past Windrum.

As the home side looked to wrap up the game on the break, substitute McLellan almost got himself on the scoresheet but his lobbed effort landed on the roof of the net, after latching on to Jenkins' through ball.

Ballymena United: Shanahan, Ervin, Surgenor, McCullagh, Stewart, Ruddy, Thompson, Boyce, Cushley, Jenkins, Teggart (McLellan)

H&W Welders: Windrum, Beattie, Armstrong, Davidson, McMurray, Harris, Dickson, Magennis (Devine), Burrows, Cahoon, Cockcroft.

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Carrickfergus)


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