First defeat for Mallards
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Ballinamallard captain Mark Stafford celebrates after putting his side ahead against Crusaders.
Crusaders 2; Ballinamallard Utd 1
Ballinamallard's unbeaten start to their league campaign came to an end at Seaview, losing 2-1 to Crusaders despite a battling performance.
With Jason McCartney out injured Whitey Anderson changed his formation. Andy Crawford was relegated to the bench with Ryan Campbell starting up front on his own in a 4-5-1 formation, supported from the flanks by Chris Curran and Liam Martin. Leon Carters was also drafted in for his first league start of the season at centre back alongside Mark Stafford.
Crusaders started brightly and Ballinamallard had to withstand an early barage from the home side. Twice in the opening ten minutes Crusader's Gary McCutcheon hit the woodwork and Davy Kee's goal line clearance following a corner ensured the Ballinamallard goal led a charmed life.
It took 20 minutes for Ballinamallard to carve out a clear cut chance, Campbell seeing his shot from the edge of the area tipped behind by the keeper. From the corner Mark Stafford rose highest and although his header was blocked he reacted quickest to stab the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Despite the goal Crusaders retained the upper hand and had a trio of handball claims turned down inside the penalty area before they grabbed a deserved equaliser when Alvin Rouse and Mark Stafford hesitated over a cross and allowed Adamson to nip in and divert the ball home.
In an open game both sides had chances to take the lead before half time, with both Campbell and Martin shooting narrowly wide for the visitors.
Crusaders started the second half in the same vein as the first, and within five minutes were in front. Mark McConkey lost possession with a misplaced pass and the home side broke down the left and crossed for Adamson to notch his second goal of the game.
Ballinamallard brought on Feeney and McKenna for McConkey and O'Grady with Hutchinson shifting to right back, and the changes gave Ballinamallard a foothold in the game. Midway through the half they forced a succession of corners, but could not force an equaliser, although as the game progressed Ballinamallard started to look the more likely side to score. With three minutes remaining Crawford missed the target from 10 yards and with his effort sailing over Ballinamallard's last chance was gone.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 01 Sep 12