Emmet Friars (76)

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David Jeffrey guided United to their first league win of the season (Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com)

SKY BLUES FINALLY GRAB FIRST LEAGUE WIN

Ballymena United finally collected their first win of the campaign with this narrow defeat of Cliftonville at The Showgrounds.

A game of few chances, the visitors did create an early opening on four minutes when Jay Donnelly turned a free-kick into the side netting while, at the other end, Joe McKinney dragged the ball wide of the target.

And McKinney might have broken the deadlock just before the break when, after a period of pressure, he saw a close range effort blocked.

Conor McCloskey failed to find a way through on the hour but could only flash the ball across the face of goal ... and Tony Kane was similarly disappointed when his header was tipped over by 'keeper Brett Long soon after.

At the other end Joe Gormley fired straight at Conor Brennan as the game began to show signs of sparking into life.

The game was finally graced with a goal on 76 minutes when Kane drilled the ball back into the area after a corner was cleared with Emmet Friars get the final touch to flick the ball into the net.

Cliftonville might have salvaged a draw in stoppage time when Daniel Hughes went close with a great strike only to be denied by a deflection.

Ballymena United: Brennan, Kane, Owens, Flynn, Thompson, McCloskey, Burns, Shevlin, Ervin, McCullough, McKinney subs Friars (replaced Owens 74), Gault (not used), Friel (replaced McKinney 64), Faulkner (replaced Shevlin 84), McCaffrey (not used)

Cliftonville: Long, McGovern, Breen, Curran, Garrett, Bagnall, Gormley, J. Donnelly, Cosgrove, A. Donnelly, R. Donnelly subs Ives (not used), Ramsey (not used), Hughes (replaced Gormley 69), M. Donnelly (not used), Winchester (not used)

Referee: Steven Gregg

Attendance: 1241

Tags:  Ballymena United  Cliftonville