The trip to Saintfield was a rather ominous affair on Saturday given that the 1st XI were missing a number of their regulars.
The shale surface wasn’t to the visitors liking either as it tends to be rather unpredictable and for this reason it took Ballymena some time to settle into any kind of rhythm.
Ballymena did come close when McDonald, with a cleverly disguised pass, laid the ball off to Crooks.
Unfortunately the midfielder, who has enjoyed a spell of good fortune in front of goal recently, narrowly missed the goal from the most accute angle!
As the second half commenced the two sides traded attacks but it was Saintfield then who seemed to want it more, as the game drew to its conclusion, and within the space of five minutes they had forced a series of short corners! Much to the visitors dismay, they managed to convert three of these!
Although the first goal was a rather scrappy affair resulting from a dodgey bounce and deflection off a defender’s stick but their second and third were clinical to say the least.
Ballymena: Eddie Hampton, Dave Bradley, Chris Hogg, Davy McDonald, Andrew Shields, Victor Orr, Andrew Crooks, Andrew McKelvey, Ken Murphy, Tim Lowry, Matthew O’Neill.
Ballymena II 3, Lisnagarvey VI 4: With both of Ballymena men’s teams depleted due to sickness it was a 10-man squad who hosted Lisnagarvey Sixths.
The key to the execution of Ballymena’s strategy was the blistering pace of Mark Monteith and Brendan Wenban who they hoped could penetrate the Garvy defence on the break.
Unfortunately Ballymena lacked the incicivness in front of goal and it was Garvey who were first to break the deadlock. A quick break and deadly strike slotted the ball past the outstretched stick of Birrell.
Just 1-0 down at the half, Ballymena were still well in the game but their elation was short lived as the visitors slotted in their second goal a couple of minutes after the restart.
Moody threw Ballymena a lifeline, with a deflected shot that reduced the deficit to a single goal.
A blistering short corner strike gave the visitors the advantage again. All credit to Brendan Wenban then who dug deep and came out top in a scramble, against the Garvy keeper, for the ball as he managed to pull another back for Ballymena 2-3.
A Garvy counter afforded the visitors a fourth goal but Ballymena pulled a third, unexpected, goal out of the hat courtesy of a mazy individual run and from Phil Moody which culminated in him smashing the ball into the back of the net.
The team would like to add a special word of thanks to Lorna Murphy for umpiring at very short notice.
Seconds: J Birrell(GK) D McDowell, H Ramsey, E Archer, A Hanna(C) D Wenban, B Wenban, P Moody, A Boyd, M Monteith.
Ballymena II 5, Knock II 0: Ballymena hosted Knock hoping to shake off a recent run of poor form.
It looked as though this might be the case as after only a few minutes, Stephanie Storey had opened the scoring. A short time later Ballymena extended their lead when a speculative shot was deflected in off a defender’s stick.
Ballymena were soon off the blocks again in the second half with a third goal when the initial shot from Vicky Hogg was deflected into the back of the net by Aimee Logan.
A fantastic display of stick and ball coordination afforded the host’s their fourth and Stephanie Storey’s second goal when she calmly rounded the keeper.
It was fitting that the tireless Aimee Logan completed the scoring with Ballymena’s fifth goal to wrap up the Seconds’ first league win of the season.
Seconds: Joanne Logan, Kathryn Kealey, Nicola Greer, Vicky Hogg, Ashleigh Harbinson, Catherine McCracken, Kirsty McMaster, Stephanie Storey, Lyndsey McClintock, Aimee Logan, Lorna Murphy, Rebecca McPeake, Aimee Logan.