0 - 0
Ballymena United FC vs Connah's Quay Nomads
Saturday 17th June 2017 | 2:00pm
Game played at Ballyclare Comrades (Dixon Park, County Antrim) | Attendance: 0
Connah’s Quay Nomads played out a 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland Premier League side Ballymena United on Saturday afternoon.
The game was in partnership with both the FAW and Northern Irish FA, as both The Nomads and Ballymena were preparing to enter the Europa League Qualifying Round One, which will be drawn on Monday 19 June.
The Nomads travelled to Dixon Park - home of Ballyclare Comrades, which hosted the game and took with them a squad including new signings Luke Denson and Andreas Bianga alongside a number of trialists.
Nathan Woolfe got The Nomads underway and they immediately attacked, but Ballymena goalkeeper Ross Glendinning ran out to collect the ball for the home side.
Both sides looked to create chances early on the game, but there were no major incidents in what was a settled first half encounter.
Joe McKinney tried to get past The Nomads' defence but was stopped by Danny Harrison and given a free kick which sailed over the crossbar.
But then Ballymena began to put serious pressure on The Nomads, forcing John Danby into a fine save from 20 yards out before club captain Jim Ervin hit a volley just over the crossbar.
Despite Ballymena’s attacks, a Nomads defence including Mike Pearson and new signing Luke Denson held strong to ensure The Nomads’ clean sheet at half time.
During the break there were few real chances for The Nomads to reflect on as they looked to build on a promising first half performance.
The Nomads started strongly after the interval and would go on to see the better of the remaining 45 minutes. Callum Morris made an intelligent interception to run at the Ballymena goal to see his shot tipped over in one of The Nomads’ best chances of the game.
Meanwhile, Nathan Woolfe proved his recent place in the Welsh Premier League team of the season by producing a number of exciting runs and crosses into the Ballymena area.
Another chance to go 1-0 up came when Sean Smith intercepted a Ballymena defender and played to the ball to a trialist who was unlucky not to score against a great save.
A host of substitutions were made as The Nomads looked to prepare their squad for Europe, with the changes introducing the likes of Conor Harwood and Andreas Bianga who was making his debut as a Connah’s Quay Nomad.
With an hour gone, The Nomads looked comfortable on the ball and were playing well inside the Ballymena half. Despite this, the Northern Ireland side kept out Woolfe’s dangerous crosses and saw a chance from George Horan go over the crossbar from a header.
Declan Poole made a good run into the Ballymena area beating a number of defenders only to put his shot wide in the last chance of the game.
Despite an impressive and positive second half, The Nomads took a 0-0 draw on a day which saw both Bala Town and Bangor City lose their respective games to Northern Irish opposition.
The Nomads move onto their next pre-Europa League - a behind closed doors friendly against St Johnstone in Scotland on Saturday 24 June.
They will also find out their Europa League qualifying round one opponent at the official UEFA draw in Geneva on Monday 19 June.
Match report by Will Catterall