Former Ballinamallard United manager Whitey Anderson selects three memorable games that his side were involved in

Monday February 21, 2011

Irish Cup Round Six Replay

Ballinamallard Utd 4 Lisburn Distillery 2

As a Championship club this was to be a great night for differing reasons. 
We had drawn the first game away when Mark Stafford scored a late equaliser to earn a 2-2 draw. I remember after the game a Distillery board member wishing us safe journey home and that they would see us in the replay back at their place. They did not realise we had floodlights and that they would be travelling to us. I politely informed him that not only had we electricity but also running water in County Fermanagh. It was all taken in good humour. 
The replay was on a Monday night. We trained on the Sunday having played a league game Saturday. This was our reallly first big night under the floodlights some 16 months after they had been installed. Hard to believe, but it was to be the first floodlit football pitch in the County. 
Tommy Wright was the Distillery manager and is now being flaunted as the new Northern Ireland boss. Glenn Ferguson who had scored over 500 goals in Irish league football was in the strike force, so we knew it would be a tough task. One of their players beforehand was heard giving off about having to attend our venue on a Monday night, so that helped our team talk. 
A great crowd was in attendance and the pitch was in superb condition. With a slight drop of rain having fallen, it was made for a good cup tie. 
In the first half Andy Crawford, Conor McGuigan, Darren Higginbotham and Chris Curran gave the opposition a horrid time, with their pace and movement. We really should have been out of sight by half time. Andy scored after being put in the clear by Conor and then Distillery equalised before half time. 
In the second half it was more even and Leon Carters, Mark Stafford, Mark McConkey and Micky Kerr had some defending to do, especially on set plays. 
They then took the lead but we equalised when Chris was taken down and Micky Kerr scored from the spot. The game would go into extra time and I remember Brian Khan suggested we get Chris Crilly onto the pitch. I generally remember that his direct running and pace just caused them all sorts of issues. They had a man sent off and  then Andy scored two goals to complete his hat trick. 
At 2-1 to them there was a pivotal moment when Glenn Ferguson scored from a corner, but the goal was ruled out for an infringement in the area. Great decision!
It was a superb team performance and the likes of Stuart Hutchinson and Davy Kee also put in  a great shift in midfield with Matty Quinn in goals making a couple of great saves. I watched the highlights and the home crowd certainly enjoyed that night. 

We then went onto be beaten by Crusaders at home in the quarter final. It was at that point, that we realised we had a good squad of players and that with a few additions we could push for promotion. The next season we did exactly that and the rest is history.

Saturday October 6, 2012

Danske Bank Premiership

Linfield 1 Ballinamallard United 3

What an incredible performance, result and a day not to be forgotten, especially for those fans who travelled up to the National Stadium. 
This game was also chosen by Mark Stafford and as he said himself it showed that we as a club could compete and play in the top flight in our first season. 
The majority of people expected us to be cannon fodder and to get relegated. The group of players that got promoted plus this squad which only included a few extra signings was exceptional. 
As time goes by, you realise on reflection, how good they actually were during that period. 
In the build up to the game I was interviewed by various papers and stated that while we would obviously respect Linfield, who were reigning champions, we would not fear them. 
David Jeffrey who we all know is a complete legend in Irish League circles had himself noted with interest my comments in a pre match interview. 
I remember thinking that I had perhaps annoyed big Davy and that no favours would be forthcoming! 
We prepared well for the game and had a simple plan. Out of possession we would defend in the middle third of the pitch and make sure we recovered into position as quickly as possible. Nowadays, it is called a mid block, admist all the modern coaching jargon. 
Leon Carters was suspended which was a loss for him personally and for the team. We fitted Craig Hill into centre back and if memory is right he had little game time previously.
 In possession we wanted to be brave and courageous on the ball when we could. Jay and Chris as wide players and Danny and Mark as full backs had the licence to get forward when possible. With Andy and Rocket up top we had serious pace and energy both defensively and attacking wise. 
Keysy and Stuart Hutchinson would have a midfield battle with Michael Gault and Jamie Mulgrew,, two very influential players with the medals to prove it. Stuart hit Michael Gault with a thundering tackle early on, releasing Andy Crawford who then played in Rocket to score from close range. What a start and it’s fair to say we celebrated that! 
Linfield came forward as we expected and our defence stood firm with Mark Stafford defending as if his life depended on it. Craig was superb beside him and did not give an inch. They equalised before half time with Alvin Rouse having also contributed with a cool, calm performance between the sticks. 
In the second half, Chris Curran broke away and from just outside the area curled a great low shot into the bottom corner to make it 2-1. 
This really stunned the home crowd and our small but loud band of supporters could be heard down the MI motorway. 
We introduced both Liam Martin and Steve Feeney to the line up and a flicked header by Steve beyond the home defence was latched onto by Liam who hit a low right foot shot across Alan Blayney in off the post to make it 3-1. 
We held out for a deserved win and then reality set in for everyone. In the post match interviews I was told that I seemed very subdued after such a great result. Like many, I was probably in a state of shock, but also realised that we would have to face Linfield again in the future!
It really was Roy of the Rovers material and I recall a phone call during the next week from the well known Talksport radio station in England. I did not believe it was them, so they gave me a number to call them back, before my online live interview took place.  We beat the Blues again that same season at Windsor 1-0, as we went onto cement fifth place in the Premier League. Leon Carters thankfully got the chance to play in that game and was immense.

Tuesday November 11, 2014

League Cup Quarter Final

Ballinamallard United 1 Glentoran 1 (aet)

(Ballinamallard won 4-1 on pens)

It is not every day that a club like Glentoran come to Ferney Park to play in the quarter final of the League Cup. The clubs founders could only have dreamt of such a fixture. 
It was a great night and a good crowd attended against a Glentoran team with the likes of Jordan Stewart and Curtis Allen in their ranks and Elliot Morris in goals. 
We took an early lead through Johnny Lafferty and had good chances in the first half to increase our lead. 
The Glens came back at us and Stefan McCusker in goals put in a very good performance, which by the end of the night earned him man of the match. 
The game ebbed and flowed and Curtis Allen equalised with 13 minutes left in normal time. The game went into extra time and with no further scoring the game was to be decided by penalties.
I remember Willie Neary, my goalkeeping coach, telling me not to worry as Stefan would save a couple. He was spot on with that prediction. 
The Glens put up Stewart and Allen to take the first two penalties. Stefan saved both and got us off to a great start. We scored our first four penalties through Jay McCartney, Johnny Lafferty, Raymond Foy and Liam Martin to win 4-1 on penalties. 
Our fifth taker was not needed and my memory has lapsed regarding who that would have been if needed. 
It is fair to say that this was a very memorable night, as back then history had been created by getting to the clubs first senior cup semi final.  
We got home advantage against Ballymena United in the semi-final but we simply did not take advantage of what was a great opportunity at the time. 
However, the game against Glentoran will still be a great memory for everyone who attended Ferney Park that night.