BALLYMONEY UNITED 3 - 1 STRABANE ATHLETIC
Both teams sparred with each other in the early stages of this game resulting in a pretty boring affair with stalemate and very few chances for the first 15 minutess when McLaughlin let fly with a speculative drive just over the visitors’ bar.
Strabane came close on 17 minutes when Ferry got in a snap shot in a crowded penalty area and with Coyle in the home goal committed and half way down to make a save and had to react to a wicked deflection managing to stretch his arm and make a brilliant save above his head.
Mark Gillan tested Early in the Strabane goal on 20 minutes bringing a great save out of the keeper.
The tempo of the game took a dramatic change with both teams creating chances and on 22 minutes Lyons broke clear down the right and fed Mark Gillan who was causing the Strabane defence all sorts of problems and was unfortunate not to put Ballymoney into the lead his shot well saved by Early in the visitors’ goal.
End to end football at this stage and Strabane should have capitalised when Ferry found himself unmarked in the 6 yard box with time and space, but scuffed his shot making Coyle’s job easy in the home goal.
Ballymoney piled on the pressure and a great overlapping run and cross by Coyles down the right on 40 minutes was wasted as there was no one there to capitalise - Breslin putting the ball wide for a corner.
The McLaughlin corner was cleared by Wilson into the path of Gerald Gillan who let fly with a screamer from the edge of the box just over the bar on 44 minutes.
Ballymoney kept up the momentum and Gerald Gillan found himself in on goal with half time approaching, settled and released a volley into the side netting.
Half Time: Ballymoney United 0 Strabane Athletic 0
Strabane started the brighter of the two teams and came close on 52 minutes when Carlin brought a great save out of Coyle in the home goal.
Ballymoney settled and a McLaughlin free kick on 55 minutes was headed on by Stewart to Mark Gillan at the back post to slot under the advancing Early for the opener.
Ballymoney took advantage of a good spell of play and Mark Gillan again came close on the hour with a rasping shot bringing a brilliant save out of Early.
McLaughlin sent in one of his trademark corners on 67 minutes and caused all sorts of mayhem in the Strabane defence, the goalmouth scramble was eventually cleared by Docherty to Carlin who attacked down the Ballymoney left cutting inside to drive into the side netting.
Strabane caused goalmouth drama of their own on 70 minutes putting the Ballymoney rear guard under pressure eventually cleared to Dempsey who fed Mark Gillan on the half way line to attack the Strabane flank and penetrate the defence with his blistering pace cutting inside past Duffy to blast past a hapless Early and into the roof of the net to extend the home lead.
Ballymoney continued to press and on 80 minutes a good combination 1- 2 between Stewart and Mark Gillan resulted in the latter breaking down the right to cross into the six yard box for Lyons to head goal wards only to see his effort brilliantly saved by Early.
Ballymoney continued to dominate and on 80 minutes Gerald Gillan found brother Mark who stepped round Docherty to unleash a great drive past Early to extend the home lead and complete his hat trick.
Strabane scored a consolation goal in injury time when a brilliant free kick by McCaughan flashed past the Ballymoney wall and past the unsighted Coyle in the home goal.
Final Score: Ballymoney United 3 Strabane Athletic 1
Ballymoney United: Coyle, Coyles, Dempsey, Gault, Craig, McClelland, Gerald Gillan, McLaughlin, Mark Gillan, Stewart, Lyons.
Subs: McAuley, Con Og Boyle, Allen, Magee.
Ballymoney United travel to Strabane Athletic on Tuesday 17th May 7-15pm kick off
Ballymoney United v Oxford United Saturday 21st May The Showgrounds 2pm kick off
Ballymoney United v Trojans Saturday 28th May The Showgrounds 2pm kick off
INTERMEDIATE LEAGUE TABLE
Ballymoney United - 27 points, 14 matches played
Strabane Athletic - 26 points, 14 matches played
Newbuildings United - 24 points, 16 matches played
Oxford United Stars - 23 points, 15 matches played
Trojans - 22 points, 13 matches played
Ardstraw - 15 points, 15 matches played
Dungiven - 6 points, 15 matches played.