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Cliftonville manager Barry Gray backs early abandonment of Ballymena clash

A Cliftonville steward collects the corner flags after the early abandonment at Solitude
By Padraig Kelly

CLIFTONVILLE boss Barry Gray endorsed the decision to abandon last night's Danske Bank Premiership clash with Ballymena United.

Referee Evan Boyce made the call at half-time following 45 minutes where both teams were troubled by swirling winds at Solitude, and more than one supporter saw their hopes of being warmed up by a cup of tea swiped away from them by the elements.

“In the interests of health and safety, I don't think it was appropriate for the game to continue and reluctantly decided to abandon the fixture,” said Ballygowan official Boyce.

Few inside the ground had any complaints.

By that stage, the score was tied at 1-1 after United's Kyle Owens had seen a deflected strike cancel out Jude Winchester's opener but the action was most notable for visiting midfielder Tony Kane being unable to take a series of corner-kicks due to the stiff breeze which at one stage virtually tackled him as he attempted a shot on goal.

“I'm generally one for playing on regardless but he's completely right to call it off,” said Reds boss Gray.

“Obviously health and safety is important and has to be the top priority but, even in footballing terms, it was a farce – the ball wouldn't sit still and nobody could pass it, so I think everyone's happy just to get off the pitch.

“I mean, we could be sitting here an hour down the line talking about somebody making a mistake that costs their team a goal or a point and that could have been down to the weather and nobody wants that or to have those sort of excuses.”

With Solitude groundstaff working tirelessly to secure advertising hoardings that were threatening to abandon their posts on the pitch's perimeter fence, Ballymena chief David Jeffrey agreed with the referee's call.

“I think half-time, at 1-1, was the perfect time to end it,” said the United boss.

Ards' match with Glenavon was also abandoned early in the second half with the visitors leading 2-0. Joel Cooper had opened the scoring for Glenavon as his deflected effort found the net after he cut in from the left. He then grabbed a second to give the Mourneview men a two-goal advantage at the break as he finished cleverly from the edge of the area.

However with advertising hoardings shaking violently, referee Lee Tavinder was left with no choice but to abandon the game shortly after the resumption.

Glentoran's game with Warrenpoint Town at the Oval didn't make the second half either as Andrew Davey called it off at half-time.

The visitors were the slightly stronger side in the first half but there had been no breakthrough by the time the match came to a premature end.

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