Irish Premiership: Ballymena United go second with win over Glentoran

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Ballymena second after gritty Glentoran win

Ballymena United moved up to second in the Irish Premiership table as a Tony Kane penalty gave them a 2-1 win over Glentoran at the Showgrounds.

Andy McGrory put the Sky Blues in front with a close-range strike in the first half, with Curtis Allen equalising with a 54th-minute header.

Kane's spot kick came 17 minutes from time after a needless tackle by William Garrett on sub Cathair Friel.

It was a fifth consecutive league victory for David Jeffrey's side.

They have now won 11 and drawn one of their last 12 matches in all competitions.

The victory sees Ballymena leapfrog Glenavon, who have a game in hand, into second place and leaves them a point behind leaders Linfield.

Jeffrey has insisted throughout their recent run that his side are not title contenders, but it may be difficult for him to maintain that stance.

Indeed, they have a chance to go top when they travel to Newry City on Friday night.

Kane celebrated his third goal of the season to claim three points for Ballymena
Kane celebrated his third goal of the season to claim three points for Ballymena

McGrory opener comes after quiet start

It was a quiet start to the match with very little to warm the Showgrounds crowd on a cold evening.

Ballymena then threatened twice in the space of two minutes, with Johnny McMurray drilling a low shot just wide on 23 minutes and defender Scot Whiteside having a back-post effort from a corner superbly blocked by Joe Crowe.

McGrory's opener came on 25 minutes when the winger ghosted in unmarked from the right wing to get on the end of a Steven McCullough right-wing cross and stab home with a first-time finish.

McMurray threatened again just before the break before Allen's leveller early in the second half.

Ross Redman delivered a trademark pinpoint cross from the left and Allen got across his marker to plant a fine downward header past Elliott Morris.

Curtis Allen equalised for Glentoran before Tony Kane hit Ballymena's winner
Curtis Allen equalised for Glentoran before Tony Kane hit Ballymena's winner

Costly Garrett challenge extends Glens' poor run

Glentoran were looking like they were heading for an away point before Garrett's poorly timed challenge on Friel.

The Ballymena striker was brought down close to the touchline and Kane made no mistake from the spot, side-footing home calmly into the bottom corner.

It was the second time in 10 days that Glens have lost to Ballymena and they remain in seventh place, having now taken just one point from their last seven league outings.

They were almost gifted an equaliser in the 28th minute when young Ballymena keeper Thomas McDermott - deputising for the injured Ross Glendinning - dropped a deep cross at the feet of Allen but then striker's effort rolled just wide to spare the keeper's blushes.

The Glens travel to Dungannon Swifts on Saturday in their next outing.