Slack defending costs weakened Ballymoney

HEADS I WIN. United's Gillan pictured in an aerial battle with Newry's Copeland during the cup tie on Saturday.INBM7-12 030SC.
HEADS I WIN. United's Gillan pictured in an aerial battle with Newry's Copeland during the cup tie on Saturday.INBM7-12 030SC.

By Neil McKnight

at Riada Stadium

Defensive slip-ups saw Ballymoney United’s Irish Cup dreams hit for six on Saturday.

Slack rearguard action and a weakened line-up dented hopes of a famous victory in the sixth round of the JJB Sports Irish Cup.

United - playing without injured regulars Gareth Hill (ankle), Lee McClelland (thigh), Hugh Og Boyle (groin), Paul Keane (knee) and Willie Wilkinson (ankle) - were striving to reach the quarter-finals for the first time but Newry City were just too hot to handle.

They netted six times and even put the ball into their own net for Ballymoney’s only goal in a display of clinical finishing. The heavy 1-6 scoreline reflected harshly on Ballymoney as keeper Ryan Moore rarely had any saves to make apart from the goals.

United also enjoyed a fair share of possession but Newry’s lightning-quick forwards made them pay at nearly every opportunity. Ballymoney got off to a terrible start when Stephen Hughes rose unchallenged at the far post to head in a corner on five minutes.

Newry could have doubled their lead again shortly afterwards but defender David King fired wide at the back stick.

United midfielder Liam Kearney squandered a good effort to equalise but was caught between crossing and shooting in the box after a quick break down the right.

Newry forced a number of corners and were unlucky when they hit the bar. But they soon doubled their lead when a ball fired in from the left wasn’t cleared and Timmy Grant slammed it high into the net on 25 minutes.

Ballymoney looked overwhelmed but the lively Ian Christie whizzed in a low shot from the edge of the box which the keeper saved.

The Toon were then handed an unlikely lifeline when Newry’s Paul Donegan deflected the ball into his own net after a good cross on the right from Kearney.

Midfielder Francis McKenna had to be substituted following a hamstring strain and his replacement Mark Dempsey proved his worth by heading a corner off the line just before the break.

Newry again started the livelier and the diminuitive Marty Haveron raced clear on goal after a huge gap disastrously opened up in the Money defence.

His angled shot went across the keeper into the corner to restore a two-goal lead on 48 minutes.

The game went from bad to worse for Money just two minutes later when the dynamic Haveron blasted home from inside the box following a free kick.

The Ballymoney players looked out of it but Gerald Gillan nearly scored after an intricate move.

Christie played a short diagonal pass into his path but, because he was stretching for the ball, could not knock it past the keeper from five yards.

Gillan had another shot saved by the goalie but Newry extended their lead when the non-stop Haveron stole the ball in the corner and fed Hughes who hit it low past the keeper on 74 minutes.

Just like at the start of the half Newry scored again minutes later. Centre forward Darragh Hanaphy was brought down in the box and Haveron swept the penalty home for his hat-trick.

Ballymoney United: Bryan Moore 6, Mark McKane 6, Kyle Buckley 7, Chris Wilkinson (capt) 6, Chris Getty 6, Gavin Gilmour 6, Francis McKenna 6, Liam Kearney 6, Mark Gillan 6, Gerald Gillan 6, Ian Christie 7. Subs: Mark Dempsey 6 (37 min for McKenna), Duane Scott 6 (53 min for Getty), Daniel Laverty 6 (63 min for Gilmour).