A very below par performance from Limavady on a miserable night at Ballymena Showgrounds. The home side were the dominant force from start to finish with an array of strong sharp and confident players. As if it wasn't hard enough to play against a quality side on form in their own backyard Limavady also had the obstacle of the incompetent man in the middle. Not for the first time have Limavady had to endure this anguish here with the same referee. After ten minutes a ball on the right went out of play and should have been a Ballymena attacking throw. To the credit of the Ballymena coach doing the line he got the flag up straight away and kept it up. The ref allowed the player to play on and score. When I reminstrated with the ref that the ball was out of play and the linesman had flagged he said he didn't see the linesman. The linesman STILL had his flag up so I said can "you see him now" and the linesman even told the referee the ball was out.The referee replied "do you want to make an issue out of it". I said of course it was an issue he had just given a goal when it wasn't. I pointed out that the linesman had still got his flag up so he would have to give a throw in. He said "I played the play". I said that his comment didn't even make sense and he said "I know" and allowed the goal to stand much to the disgust of both sets of managers and coaches. The management and coaches of Ballymena were quick to apologise and state how embarrassed they were to be awarded a goal like that and how ridiculous of the referee not to give a throw in.
Ballymena went on to dominate the game and the decision in the end was not a deciding factor in the outcome but nevertheless some of the standards of refereeing is beyond poor. Minutes later a corner drilled to the front post saw poor communication as two Limavady players contrived to put it inside their front post to make it 2-0 to Ballymena. Ballymena continued to pepper the goal with long shots but Eoghan McLaughlin was equal to anything from range. The home side did get another 2 before the half and poor closing and tackling allowed their dribblers too often to pierce the defence.
Harry McLaughlin then pulled on back for Limavady when he got on the end of Macauley Norwood's cross and took it on the chest on the edge of the box and then with an acrobatic volley smashed it into the top corner. A goal of quality that was well worth the trip. Second half was much the same with ballymena still totally in control and scoring another 3 but Eoghan McLaughlin scored another for Limavady when a good kick out from Josh Martin was headed on by Harry McLuaghlin and then Curtis Macauley did well to poke it into the path of Eoghan who raced clear and finished in style. A disappointing result but lots of positives and a good learning curve for Limavady.
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