Belfast Telegraph

Hat-trick hero Murray boosts Warrenpoint Town's bid for safety with Ballymena United win

Warrenpoint Town 4-1 Ballymena United

By Gareth McCullough

Warrenpoint Town jumped above Carrick Rangers at the foot of the Danske Bank Premiership table with a stunning 4-1 comeback win against 10-man Ballymena at Milltown courtesy of a Stephen Murray treble, inflicting David Jeffrey's first defeat in charge of the Sky Blues.

Town went behind on 23 minutes from a defensive error against the run of play. A long ball out of defence should have been dealt with by Stephen Moan but the defender's header back to Jonathan Parr was far too weak and that allowed William Faulkner to nip in and lob the keeper from just inside the box.

It took less than two minutes after the restart for Warrenpoint to draw level. Martin Murray played Stephen Murray in down the right and with the striker beating the offside trap, he saw his first effort saved by Alan Blayney but Stephen Murray picked up the rebound and fired in from point blank range.

Things got even better for the home side just before the hour when Johnny McMurray got through ahead of Michael Ruddy. Ruddy was adjudged to have brought the forward down, a penalty was given and Ruddy was shown a straight red card.

Stephen Murray stepped up to beat Blayney from the spot with a cool finish.

And the win was all but sealed on 72 minutes when, seconds after Martin Murray had been denied by a superb goal-line clearance by Johnny Taylor, McMurray slotted into the bottom corner from 15 yards to make it 3-1.

Then, just two minutes later, Stephen Murray completed his hat-trick through sheer persistence when he won the ball 25 yards out and lobbed into the net with Blayney stranded.

Warrenpoint Town: Parr, M Hughes, McVeigh, Murphy (Smith 77), Moan, Bagnall, Clarke, McDonald, McMurray, M Murray (Donnelly 83), S Murray (Mulvenna 80). Subs not used: King, McCabe.

Ballymena United: Blayney, T Kane, Taylor, Henderson, Jenkins, Cushley (Millar 79), Faulkner, Ruddy, Ervin, McVey, Frazer (Hanley 61). Subs not used: Nelson, McNally, E Kane, Millar.

Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon).

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