Saturday 26th January
Kilmore Playing Fields
Ballynahinch Olympic 1 1 Shankill Utd
Ballynahinch Olympic entertained Shankill Utd in this top of the table clash in really cold conditions but despite making a bright start found their visitors difficult to contain especially in the first half writes Cyril McKinney.
On 12 minutes after some good link-up play with Briers, Shankill mid-fielder Bates was high and wide with a volley. Gradually Bates, Jamie Peoples and Luke Briers starting to pull the strings in the middle of the park.
Shankill were increasingly beginning to dominate and on 23 minutes, Briers crossed from the left wing and found Luke Braidan free at the back post and despite having a free header on goal, he somehow managed to miss the target completely.
With both teams sharp in the tackle the referee eventually showed a yellow card to Shankill defender Graham Foster almost on the half hour. This did not deter either side from contesting many of the referee’s decisions as the half wore on. On 32 minutes the visitors went ahead when from a slide rule pass through from Briers, the Shankill left winger Callan McCredie clinically finished with a cross shot from just inside the right edge of the Olympic box.
Almost immediately Olympic responded with Steven McGoran testing the visiting keeper Tony Martin from a tight angle down the left flank. Ballynahinch found it difficult to find time on the ball as their visitors closed them down on every occasion and they could not find any momentum as the half-time whistle approached.
Into the second half, Olympic began to impose themselves more on the game and on 50 minutes Shane Murray headed over the bar from 6 yards showing Olympic meant business. The game ebbed and flowed for a while until Murray went off to be replaced by Adam McLean on 73 minutes.
Two minutes later McLean was the hero as he popped up with a fine header to equalise after a great left wing cross from Ryan Molloy. As the game entered the final 10 minutes and both teams largely cancelling each other in the middle of the park, it was left to a couple of half chances at either end but neither team could convert.
Ballynahinch sub McNamara shipped a heavy tackle in the closing stages and had to supported as he left the pitch. Despite being a keenly contested match it was good to see the visiting management team rushing to attend to the stricken player – a very sporting gesture.
Both defences were excellent in this game and were resolute in every tackle. A fair result overall for both teams.
Ballynahinch Olympic: Ryan Walsh, Dalton Tate, Ryan Noade, Connor Reid, Jason Noade, Shane Murray, Stephen Noade, Niall Murray, Ryan Molloy, Chris McNamara, Steven McGoran. Subs: Adam McLean for Shane Murray, Jack Patterson for Chris McNamara, Darren Lyons
Shankill Utd FC: Tony Martin, Graham Foster, Brian Dickson, Luke Braiden, Scott Nixon, Philip Gordon, Ethan Bates, Jamie Peoples, Luke Briars, Curtis Black, Callan McCredie. Subs: Kyle Dillon for Jamie Peoples, Jonathan Picking for Callan McCredie, Marc Young