Adam Lecky scored twice for the Sky Blues (©INPHO/Brian Little)
Saturday, 26 January 2019
Ballymena United closed the gap at the top to three points with victory over Ards at The Showgrounds.
The Sky Blues needed just four minutes to move in front when Cathair Friel fired home with his right foot from eight yards after a James Knowles effort was blocked.
They might have added a second on seven minutes but Andy McGrory could only curl a free-kick just wide of the upright but, with a quarter-of-an-hour gone, it was 2-0 through Adam Lecky's finish after rounded keeper Sam Johnston who found himself stranded after coming for the ball.
Ards might have pulled a goal back moments later but Darren Henderson was unfortunate to hit an upright from almost point blank range.
Ballymena did have the ball in the net again midway through the first half but Lecky's 'goal' was ruled out offside.
The visitors reduced the deficit deep into first half stoppage time when Henderson rose above Kofi Balmer to nod home a long punt forward from Johnston.
But Ballymena restored their two-goal advantage a couple of minutes into the second half when Lecky struck again with a lobbed finish after Friel's delivery from the right.
There was almost a fourth in a great team move which began with Jude Winchester sending a through ball for Lecky who then teed up Friel but Johnston did well to make a brilliant block.
Ards almost grabbed a second with around a quarter-of-an-hour left when substitute Mark Kelly rattled the crossbar but, on 81 minutes, Ballymena did add number four when Ards defender Michael Kerr nodded the ball into his own net whilst attempting to clear a Steven McCullough free-kick under pressure from Friel.
Ballymena United: Glendinning, Addis, Friel, Knowles, McCullough, McGrory, Balmer, Winchester, Ervin, Lecky, Millar subs Williamson, Kane, Whiteside, Faulkner, Shevlin, McMurray, Harpur
Ards: Johnston, Kerr, E. McAllister, Byers, Cherry, D. McAllister, J. Kelly, Tommons, Nelson, Evans, Henderson subs Davidson, M. Kelly, McLellan, McClean, McAleenan, Bennett, McCawl
Referee: Ross Dunlop
|Darren Henderson||73||45 +2|