McDonagh's dream double not enough to hand Reds victory as Ballymena stage stunning comeback
Danske Bank Premiership: Ballymena United 2 Cliftonville 2
TWO wonder strikes from Jamie McDonagh were not enough to see Cliftonville move up to a share of second place in the Danske Bank Premiership as late drama at the Showgrounds saw Ballymena grab two late goals to ensure the Reds had to settle for the points.
The visitors made a bright start and Jamie McDonagh's incisive run set up a chance for Chris Gallagher on 12 minutes but he saw his effort cleared off the line by Sean Graham.
McDonagh's thumping volley from just outside the box eventually broke the deadlock on 17 minutes.
McDonagh caught the ball sweetly on his right foot after the Ballymena defence had cleared from a Cliftonville corner and the ball flew past Gallagher in the home goal.
It was a strike that ensured the Reds held the half-time advantage but not before Ballymena captain Leroy Millar almost levelled three minutes before the break, his shot from a Ross Redman corner crashing into the side netting.
The second half struggled to reach the heights of the action-packed opening period, but a second sensational strike from McDonagh on 80 minutes looked to have handed the Reds all three points. McDonagh picked up the ball in the centre circle and powered through the Ballymena defence before slotting past Gallagher.
However, there were to be further twists in the contest. Millar atoned for his earlier miss by pulling a goal back for the Braidmen two minutes from time.
Then the game ended in even more drama in injury time when Chris Gallagher was adjudged to have handle in the box and Ballymena were awarded a penalty. Up stepped Paul McElroy to fire the spot kick home and earned the Sky Blues a share of the spoils