Cathair Friel and Levi Ives (Picture: Matt Mackey/PressEye.com)
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
After a quiet opening both sides created efforts around the quarter-of-an-hour mark when Levi Ives and then Allan Jenkins sent shots just wide at either end.
United's Adam McCracken almost turned the ball into his own net after half-an-hour as he turned the ball onto the post whilst clearing a Kym Nelson cross.
The Reds thought they had found a way through just before the break but his 'goal', after Ross Glendinning had made an initial save, was ruled out offside.
The Sky Blues moved in front on 55 minutes through Kyle Owens after he diverted a strong header past Peter Burke from a free-kick, although the Reds 'keeper did get a fingertip to it.
And it was 2-0 on the hour when Conor McCloskey went on a great run before laying the ball off for Johnny McMurray to fire into the bottom corner.
Garrett pulled one back a couple of minutes later with a hooked ball over Glendinnig into the top corner while Jay Donnelly then might have levelled onto to send the ball against the bar after Nelson's free-kick wasn't cleared.
Cliftonville had a second goal ruled out offside when Ross Lavery's finish was chalked off on 77 minutes before, five minutes after that, Cathair Friel secured the points for Ballymena after McMurray unselfishly squared the ball into his path.
McMurray's generosity was when he bagged his second - and Ballymena's fourth - a couple of minutes from time with a lob over Burke.
Ballymena United: Glendinning, Owens, Flynn, Jenkins, McCloskey, Friel, Ervin, McMurray, McCaffrey, Loughran, McCracken subs Allen (not used), Henderson (replaced McMurray 90), Lowry (not used), Millar (replaced McCracken 75), Kerr (not used)
Cliftonville: Burke, McGovern, Ives, Bonner, Curran, Garrett, M. Donnelly, J. Donnelly, Cosgrove, Finnegan, Nelson subs Dunne (not used), Winchester (not used), Lavery (replaced J. Donnelly 75), Reynolds (replaced Bonner 58), Haire (replaced Finnegan 62)
Referee: Ian McNabb
|Conor McCloskey||90 +4|
|Jaimie McGovern||90 +4|
|Christopher Curran||90 +4|