Football/Soccer

Cliftonville lose their unbeaten record at Ballymena United

A delighted Ballymena manager David Jeffrey embraces his players after Saturday's victory over Cliftonville at the Showgrounds Picture by David Maginnis/Pacemaker
Pádraig Ó Meiscill

Danske Bank Premiership: Ballymena United 1 Cliftonville 0

LEAGUE leaders Cliftonville may have lost their unbeaten record at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday, but manager Paddy McLaughlin was disappointed more with the nature of the defeat than the defeat itself.

The Reds went into Saturday's game with the chance to extend their lead over defending champions Linfield to five points, but a Kenny Kane goal for the hosts in the first-half was ultimately enough for Ballymena to take all three points.

United 'keeper Jordan Williamson saved well from Ryan Curran and Ronan Hale efforts as Cliftonville battled to get back in to the game, while Ronan Doherty, Joe Gormley, Jamie McDonagh and Chris Curran were all off target with their efforts in the second-half.

“It's unfortunate when any good run comes to an end and ours came to an end here, but it could come to an end against any team in this division,” McLaughlin said on the final whistle.

“Everybody is good enough to beat anybody on their day and Ballymena were very good in the first-half and I thought we were superb in the second and created five or six goal opportunities.

“We just didn't have enough quality in the final third to take those opportunities and I think if we had equalised, we could have won it. We're really disappointed but losing the unbeaten run isn't the end of the world.

“We were going to lose to somebody at some stage because the league is so competitive, but we're just disappointed in the manner we lost it having dominated the second-half.”

While Levi Ives was forced off early on Saturday, McLaughlin was relieved that the injury doesn't look as serious as first feared: “Levi should be okay,” the Derry man added.

“I don't think the damage to his ankle ligaments is as bad as we thought and hopefully he can be back in the next two or three weeks.

“Normally, an ankle ligament injury can be six to eight weeks, but the signs are he won't be out too long out which is great news because he has been great for us.”

Elsewhere on Saturday, Glentoran had to settle for a 2-2 draw against 10-man Portadown as the visitors twice came from behind at the Oval. Michael Ruddy cancelled out Conor McMenamin's opener before the Ports lost Adam McCallum to a red card with Jay Donnelly netting the resulting penalty. But Lee Bonis headed in a late leveller to leave the Glens with just one win in five.

At Milltown, a Matthew Shevlin double heaped more misery on basement club Warrenpoint as Coleraine came away from south Down with a 2-0 victory.

Linfield have the chance to leapfrog Cliftonville at the top of the table tonight when they travel to Inver Park to take on Larne (7.45pm).

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Football/Soccer