Nicole Connolly (10)
Helen Curneen (18)
Taylor Wright (53)
Nicole Connolly (60)

4

CRUES' FOUR-STAR SHOWGROUNDS SHOWING

Both teams started brightly with the first chance falling to Ballymena when a mistake in the Crusaders defence saw the ball fall to Michelle McDonald whose shot was well saved by Amy McGivern.

It was the visitors who broke the deadlock on ten minutes when Danielle McDowell carried the ball down the left wing, lifted the ball in to Nicole Connelly whose lob over the 'keeper found the back of the net.

Eight minutes later Ballymena defender Megan McIntosh was adjudged to have fouled Helen Curneen inside the box and Curneen herself stepped up and scored the resulting penalty.

In a free flowing game, both sides had a number of chances to add to the score sheet, with Julie Nelson for Crusaders and Rebekah Reynolds for Ballymena both going close with free-kicks that were well held by the 'keepers.

The All Stars were immediately on the attack at the beginning of the second half with Wendy Young charging down the right wing but unable to find a Sky Blue shirt in the box with her cross.

Pushing hard to try and get back in the game, Ballymena were undone on 53 minutes when a Mairead McCann corner was met by Taylor Wright whose header found the top left corner of the goal.

The Crusaders victory was consolidated on 60 minutes when a speculative shot from Nicole Connelly from inside the left side of the box near the by-line wasn’t cleared by Ballymena and ended up in the back of the net.

To their credit, Ballymena pushed on, determined to get something from the game. A lovely one-two between Danielle Winter and Michelle McDonald saw McDonald’s shot blocked by the goalkeeper and Rachel Fulton’s follow up shot was deflected behind for a corner.

The last clear cut chance fell to Crusaders following another McCann corner but Chloe Doak’s header flew just over the bar.

Ballymena United All Stars: Daley, Henderson, Reynolds, McIntosh, Boyce, Young, A. Smyth, McDonald, Fulton, Winter, R. Smyth subs Henry (replaced R. Smyth 51), Millar (replaced A. Smyth 85), Stevenson (not used)

Crusaders Strikers: McGivern, Armour, Wright, Nelson, McNeill, H. Mearns, McCann, Connolly, McDowell, Doak, Curneen subs Hanna (replaced Armour 65), Robinson (replaced Mearns 46), Wilson (not used), Chalmers (not used)

Referee: Kyle Barr