Ballyclare Comrades Reserves salvage a point

Ballyclare Comrades Reserves manager, Stephen Hughes.
Ballyclare Comrades Reserves manager, Stephen Hughes.

A late equaliser from Ryan Burke rescued a draw for the Wee Reds in the Ballymena Junior League Division tie against Woodburn.

The Comrades Reserves dominated the game which was being staged at Dixon Park, but were unable to turn their dominant possession into goals.

The Carrick lads took the lead in the 27th minute when a free from twenty yards was drilled past stand-in keeper Scott Gault, who donned the gloves after Jonah Nicholl had been called up to the senior squad.

Kyle Robinson made ground several times down the right flank, but crosses into the box failed to produce results, while Bobby Crowe was denied an equaliser when the keeper tipped his effort over the bar just before the break.

The Wee Reds cranked up the pressure during the third quarter, with Craig Todd and Ross Clarke seeing their efforts being cleared off the line, while Scott Cummings and Michael Haskins also tested the keeper.

At the other end Gault pulled off one fine diving save, but his opposite number continued to be much busier.

The pressure paid off for the Ballyclare side as the Woodburn goalkeeper was finally beaten in the 87th minute.

Substitute Burke picked up a Kyle McCauley pass and rifled the ball into the roof of the net from twenty-five yards.

In injury time the Comrades almost snatched the winner, but Todd and Cummings just failed to get a touch on Clarke’s cross with the defence in disarray.

“We turned round one down, but should have been ahead,” said manager Hughes. “For a period in the second half the Woodlands goal was under siege, but we couldn’t get the ball into the net until that late equaliser. Midfielders Bobby Crowe and Ryan McIlwaine kept us moving forward, but we spurned enough chances to win three or four matches – it was very frustrating,” he added.

Ronnie Burns who will be taking over from Hughes was in the dugout running his eye over his new charges.

Comrades Reserves: Gault; McCauley, Davidson (C), Todd, Haskins; Robinson, Crowe, Clarke, McIlwaine; McFaul, Cummings. Subs: Agnew, Burke.

Next up for the Comrades Reserves is a trip to the UUJ grounds this week (Saturday 19), to fulfil a league fixture against FC Whiteabbey.