Ballynahinch out

Ballynahinch out

18 August 2021

BALLYNAHINCH United exited the Irish Cup at the first round stage on Saturday — but not without a fight.

Trailing 2-0 with time running out, Aaron Cheevers brought them into contention with a screamer that flew into the top corner of the Greenisland net.

Then right at the death the same player had a penalty appeal turned down by the referee.

The match itself was something of a landmark occasion.

A familiar buzz returned to Ballynahinch after 553 days without competitive action at the Millbridge and the home team treated the spectators to exciting attacking play.

Gavin Crawford controlled midfield, allowing Taylor Graham and Jonny Shannon to create dangerous opportunities from out wide. 

Aaron Cheevers came close to breaking the deadlock on a number of occasions, but swept an effort wide of the near post and hit the keeper with another effort. 

Despite their dominance, United conceded first. A Greenisland corner found their attacker in acres of space to nod home a free header to give the visitors the lead. 

After going behind, United continued to control the game while Scott Cheevers, Stuart McMullan, Scott Brashaw and Jordan Patterson defended well.

The story was the same after the break but they still couldn’t find the equaliser. Jonny Shannon fired an excellent ball into the box, but Jack Forbes couldn’t make enough contact to send it over the line. 

However, United were caught on the counter after losing possession in midfield.

The attack resulted in a penalty being awarded to Greenisland when the referee judged there to be a foul after shoulder contact between opposing players.

It could have went either way. The penalty was duly slotted away to double the lead. 

Soon after, in a similar situation, a second penalty was awarded – this time for a more clear-cut foul. Stefan Graham prevented United falling further behind with a magnificent diving save to keep out the spot kick. 

United attacked with renewed enthusiasm and dominated the play once again, but their efforts looked to be curtailed when Scott Cheevers received a second booking. 

Undeterred, the team pushed forward after the introduction of Johnny Stevenson and Ronnie Johnston until Aaron Cheevers found the net.

The forward picked the ball up outside the box, shimmied last a defender and unleashed a rocket which left the keeper with no chance.

Shortly afterwards, Aaron was on the receiving end of a mistimed challenge inside the box but the referee waved away the penalty calls despite clear contact. The final whistle soon followed.

United will be encouraged by their performance and know on another day they would have progressed to the next round.

Ballynahinch United 1

Greenisland 2