Leroy Millar celebrates opening the scoring (©INPHO/Jonathan Porter)

SECOND HALF GOALS GIVE SKY BLUES EURO ADVANTAGE

Two goals early in the second half helped Ballymena United sweep to victory over Faroese visitors NSi Runavik in their Europa League Preliminary Round First Leg tie at The Showgrounds.

David Jeffrey's side hold a commanding advantage going into next Thursday's return but they will be wary of the threat posed by NSi who came closest to breaking the deadlock inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour when Ross Glendinning was called into action to impressively tipping over a dangerous looking Petur Knudsen effort.

However, as the first half progressed, Ballymena looked the more dominant with Winchester blazing one shot over while Cathair Friel tested keeper Tórður Thomsen from distance with Millar then being thwarted by a great stop.

But Millar wasn't to be denied just four minutes into the second half with a composed finish on the edge of the six yard box past Thomsen from Friel's nodded touch.

Then, just seven minutes after that, Winchester made it 2-0 with a superb curling effort from just inside the area after the ball fell loose from a challenge on Friel.

Runavik didn't let their heads drop and, chasing what would have been a crucial away goal, almost grabbed it soon after only for Glendinning to pull off a superb close range stop to keep out Knudsen with the follow up being fired over.

And the visitors came close again later in the game with Knudsen sending a free-kick narrowly over from just outside the box.

United could have extended their advantage in the closing minutes with Millar just failing to keep a header from going over while substitute Ryan Mayse sent the ball wide from a difficult angle.

Ballymena United: Glendinning, Kane, Whiteside, Friel, McCullough, Carville, Balmer, Winchester, Ervin, Lecky, Millar subs Williamson (not used), Mayse (replaced Friel 79), McGinty (not used), Harpur (replaced Winchester 86), Burns (not used), Kelly (not used), Lavery (not used)

NSi Runavik: Thomsen, Langgaard, Hojgaard, Davidsen, Nersveen, Olsen, Egilsson, Justinussen, Hentze, Knudsen, Jogvansson-Hansen subs Joensen (not used), O. Olsen (not used), J. Mortensen (not used), Benjaminsen (replaced Egilsson 70), M. Mortensen (not used), J. Olsen (not used), Hansen (replaced Langgaard 68)

Tags:  Ballymena United