Crusaders 1 Northend United 2 NIBFA Cup Saturday 23rd October 2021
First time out in the NIBFA Cup for the young blues and a crisp autumnal morning in Crumlin set the scene for what was to be an epic encounter. The young Northend side got their first taste of National League level against Irish League Academy side Crusaders, on a slick 3G pitch at the Leisure Centre. Despite the Crues depleted squad, due to sickness and injury, football was the winner today with a very competitive tie.
The young Northend team started the brightest and were able to get in behind the Crusaders back line with some good football only for Shea McFerran to be denied twice by the young Crusaders keeper. However, the early bluster of the young blues was soon to be dampened as a physical, aggressive Crusaders side began to wrestle control of the midfield and showed their intent with a few breaks down the outside. On each occasion the young Northend keeper Conor Lavelle stood firm and the ball was gladly held well. Crusaders showed their ability on the ball with some good footwork and their big forward had flashes of brilliance and strong physical running that was hard to match. Eoin Lavelle was however having a stormer in a new role in defence, using his recovery pace and reading of the play to great effect. It wasn’t all one-way traffic Northend carved out a few chances of their own. The hard working forward McFerran was giving the Crues backline a torrid time and was getting kicked and targeted in response. Shea kept fighting and looked like he had unlocked the Crusader’s defence when his first time shot beat the keeper only to hit the top of the crossbar and go out for a goal kick. However, the luck just wasn’t there and Northend were to soon pay for deliberation on the ball as the Crusaders team seemed that bit more aggressive in the tackle. They pressed well to win the ball on the edge of their own box and set off on the counter. The Crusaders best player of the first half charged past two Northend players to rifle the ball high into the roof of the net to take the lead before the break. Half time 1-0
In the second half Northend began to gain more control of the game. Jay Jamieson was dominant in a new central midfield role and started on the front foot, leading by example, winning the ball with aggression and setting up Northend attacks. However, Northend were a little too keen on the counter and quite a few promising attacks were lost to the offside flag to the dismay of the travelling support. Tensions were mounting as discipline was beginning to be lost on both sides and Crusaders were reacting to the growing threat of the Northend side. Ethan Drysdale was beginning to dominate the battle on the wing only to be brought down again and again. The Northend side were on the receiving end of a few rough tackles but dusted themselves down and kept playing football.. On the pitch the boys reacted well and after mounting pressure from the right-hand side, the ball fell on the edge of the box to striker Kian McGarel. The ball sat up nicely and everyone waited with anticipation as young McGarel pulled the trigger and sent the ball flying on the half volley into the corner of the net. The crowd and players went into wild celebrations and they could see the tie beginning to swing in Northend’s favour. 1-1. It wasn’t long before Drysdale was in again on goal as he beat two players only to see his effort whistle by the top corner of the net. With five minutes to go McFerran was slipped through for the chance he had been waiting for but the pace of the pitch and the outrushing keeper just smothered the chance to the gasps of the Northend faithful. Crusaders were still in this game and were still a threat. Much of their play was down the left-hand side but Hubert Pekala was having one of his best games for the Northend side and did not miss one tackle or clearance including some lovely recovery work. As the coaches checked their watches for ensuing extra time Ethan Drysdale broke free again bearing in on goal. He ran directly towards goal and rifled a shot passed the goalkeeper and the crowd went wild with applause. This was surely the winner in the dying seconds. The Northenders still had to see out the injury time pressure to the nerves and tension of the Northend support. Crusaders tried again for the equaliser only for Caleb Da Prato and Hubert Pekala to snuff out the final chance in the corner. The referee took one final look at his watch and the final whistle was received with relief and rapturous applause as the supporters and team celebrated a well-deserved, hard fought victory. All players should be very proud of themselves on both sides with what was one of the most competitive and physical encounters of the season so far. Crusaders to their credit were dead on their feet at the end as tiredness showed with an empty bench. The young blues move on into the hat for the second round with a hard-earned win showing resilience, a great team effort and fighting spirit. Full time 1-2
Man of The Match: Eoin Lavelle
Panel: C Lavelle (c), A Pekala, K O’Neill, H Pekala, J Jamieson, N Patenall, E Lavelle, C Da Prato, S McArdle, E Drysdale, C King, D Morrow, L Barnett, S McFerran, K McGarel.
Northend United 6 TW Braga 2 Saturday 16th October 2021
A return to Wallace Park saw the Northend Blues maintain their one hundred percent start to the season. It was a tough first half encounter with resolute defending and fine goalkeeping from the young Braga side. However, the spaces began to open up in the second half and it was a comfortable victory in the end. The biggest threat in the first half for Northend was the left side as Lucas Barnett was a constant threat with great wing play and delivery into the box. The Braga team were very hard to break down before finally Kian McGarel was able to unlock the packed defence. However, Braga went straight up the other end and their big central forward broke free and slotted the equaliser. Northend kept plugging away and another classic from Kian and a tap in for Corey King, from a parried Shea McFerran shot, saw the young blues go in at half time two to the good. Half time 3-1
A shuffle of the pack at halftime saw Caleb Da Prato move out to the right and this really opened up Braga as Caleb got in behind the defence time after time providing great delivery for the front men. Sam McArdle was also on song dominating the midfield in the second half and making great use of the ball with defence splitting passes. The front two of McFerran and McGarel each scored a screamer in the second half, giving the classy keeper no chance, finding either top Corner. McArdle’s man of the match performance was capped off with a well taken goal thundered in from the edge of the box, showcasing his natural ability. Da Prato also nearly capped off his strong performance with a goal only to see his shot deflect off the inside of the post and run along the goal line for Barnett to tap home. Braga also got a consolation penalty when their big centre forward broke free again from the defence. He was a thorn in the Northenders side all day long alongside Braga’s keeper, who at times looked to have glue on his gloves as he made save after save. Well done to both teams and the young Blues move on and look forward to their big match in the NIBFA Cup against Crusaders next week. Full time 6-2
Player of The Match: Sam McArdle
Panel: C Lavelle, A Pekala, K O’Neill, H Pekala, J Jamieson, N Patenall, E Lavelle, C Da Prato, S McArdle, E Drysdale, C King(c), K O’Neill, S McFerran, L Barnett
Northend United 4 Chimney Corner 3 Saturday 9th October 2021
Another early, wet start in the Lisburn League at Wallace Park for the young blues. However, that was not going to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for this top of the table clash and the game more than lived up to the pre-match hype. Both Chimney Corner and Northend went into this game without dropping a point in the league and the confidence of both teams showed with lots of attacking intent from the outset. In the early minutes both teams traded blows with Northend intent on steamrolling through the middle while Chimney Corner opted for a more direct approach using the width and their pace down the channels. This tactic paid off quite quickly when the Chimney Corner winger beat his defender to bear in on in the Northend goal and a crossed shot high into the danger area could only be parried into the net by keeper Conor Lavelle. No sooner were Chimney Corner in front before they added a second. A dangerous ball was lofted over the Northend defence, breaking the offside trap, to set the big Chimney corner number 10 in on goal to double the lead. Chimney Corner were exploiting the spaces out wide and behind the defence to good effect and early on it looked likely they would run away with the match. It wasn't to be as a quick rearrangement of the central defence with Kian O’Neill at the centre started to resume control. Caleb Da Prato and Eoin Lavelle were also dogged in the midfield and the Northend boys were definitely not giving up this game without a fight. They started using the width themselves and the wide men began getting joy with some telling balls. Finally, Shea McFerran got on the end of one and at the second attempt slotted the ball away calmly to the relief of the Northend supporters. Kian McGarel was now terrorising the backline and after a deft feint gained a yard of space to effortlessly ping the ball into the back of the net from 30 yards. An absolute thunderbolt which gave the diving keeper no chance and has to be up there with one of the best of the season so far. At this point Northend had wrestled control of the game and Chimney Corner were on the back foot trying to absorb the pressure. The pressure was telling, and Lucas Barnett and Ethan Drysdale were giving the wing backs a torrid time on the outside. A slipped ball to center forward Shea McFerran gave him another opportunity before the half time whistle. Shea showed great composure and skill to round the keeper and calmly slot the ball away into the empty net for his second of the day. Half-time 3-2
As the second half resumed it was obvious that Chimney Corner were not finished, and they assumed back control of this tie dominating possession. Kian O’Neill, Hubert Pekala and Jay Jamieson were immense at the back dealing with everything that the Chimney Corner team through at them. Chimney Corner tried again to exploit the outside, but Adrian Pekala and Noah Patenall shut the door time after time and were helped out with great recovery tackles from Ethan and Lucas on the wings as well as the dynamic Eoin Lavelle in midfield and keeper Conor Lavelle. Nevertheless, Chimney Corner’s pressure finally told when a crossed shot was saved by the diving Conor Lavelle only to be tapped in at the back post to level the match. Chimney Corner had another replicate chance soon after but somehow Jay Jamieson was able to get back and recover when it looked likely that Chimney Corner would take the lead. The Northend boys showed great fight and intent to attack and try and win the game despite the pressure. Some great hold-up play and distribution from Shea McFerran finally reaped rewards when Shea got free on the right-hand side of the goal and slipped the ball across goal to Corey king for a tap in. What seemed to be an eternity as the onrushing goalkeeper dived at the feet of Corey, young King however had the audacity to pause and calmly chip the keeper to take the lead. This resulted in wild celebrations as the subs and all players piled onto Corey to celebrate the goal. This was not the end however. The last five was all one-way traffic as Chimney Corner fought hard for the equalizer to keep their undefeated run intact. However, some Roy of the Rovers defending from Jay Jamieson and Kian O’Neill saw the game out and the final whistle was received with rapturous applause as the supporters and team celebrated a well deserved, hard fought victory and bragging rights at the top end of the table. All players should be very proud of themselves on both sides with what was one of the most competitive and pleasurable encounters of the season so far. Full time 4-3
Player of The Match: Adrian Pekala
Panel: C Lavelle, A Pekala (c), K O’Neill, H Pekala, J Jamieson, N Patenall, E Lavelle, C Da Prato, S McArdle, E Drysdale, C King, D Morrow, K O’Neill, S McFerran, L Barnett.
Northend United 6 Lower Maze 0 Saturday 2nd October 2021
A cold wet morning in Barbour against a physical Lower Maze team made for a difficult day at office for the young Pizza Parlour sponsored Blues. The boys worked really hard in the first half to edge the lead before finishing strongly to win the game comfortably in the end. Lower Maze made it very difficult with some very resolute defending and a well organised line to keep the Northenders at bay for large parts of the game.
The first half saw some great football and wing play down the right with Ethan Drysdale seeing a lot of the ball and linking play well with the front two. However, the Northend side couldn’t break the deadlock with half chances, clearances and a few good saves from efforts from Shea McFerran. It was a very tight affair and one of frustration before finally Kian McGarel found a way passed the Lower Maze wall. The goalkeeper and defence had cleared everything in the box up to this point and so it required Kian to rifle an effort from the edge of the box high above the keeper’s head and into the top corner, to make it 1-0. Lower Maze had a few counter attacks which were mopped up calmly by Jay Jamieson and Kian O’Neill at the back. Finally, before the half time whistle a bit of breathing Space as Kian McGarel showed great feet on the edge of the box to bring down a slipped pass from Eoin Lavelle and beat a defender to gain a yard of space and much like his first effort, fire the ball into the roof of the net, high over the keeper’s head. The young striker was the difference between the teams at the break. Half time 2-0
In the second half the boys got much more joy down the outside using the space well and moving the ball much more quickly. Composure was the key word at half time and the young blues responded with some neat footwork and passing through all the thirds. Spaces were starting to open up in the pitch and the midfield two of Sam McArdle and Eoin Lavelle started controlling the game. Another good defence splitting ball from Eoin Lavelle beat the offside trap to set Shea McFerran on his way. Using his strength and ability Shea held off two defenders and bearing in on the keeper, calmly slotted home to make it three. The boys started using the ball well from the back and another nice pass from Kian O’Neill was flicked on by winger Lucas Barnett to again break the offside trap and set Kian McGarel directly through on goal. The young marksman dispatched his shot clinically passed the keeper for his hat-trick for the day. Northend didn't stop there and continued to use the ball well and the spaces out wide with Corey King, Ethan Drysdale and Dylan Morrow making great use of the ball and creating a number of openings. Dylan Morrow’s first time cross from the left side across goal was slotted home at the back post by his opposite winger, Ethan Drysdale, only for the favour to be returned with Dylan capitalising at the back post for his first. Dylan got a second with another good ball delivered from out wide from Eoin Lavelle to edge the coaches’ choice for man of the match. This was a difficult decision as yet again a number of strong performers Adrian Pekala, Sam McArdle and Eoin Lavelle to name a few. Also pleasing for the coaching staff was consecutive clean sheets and good organisation and leadership from the back. Well done boys from number 1-15 they were a pleasure to watch, and the travelling support go home happy yet again. Full time 6-0.
Player of The Match: Dylan Morrow
Panel: C Lavelle, A Pekala, K O’Neill, H Pekala, J Jamieson, N Patenall, E Lavelle, C Da Prato (C), S McArdle, E Drysdale, C King, D Morrow, K O’Neill, S McFerran, L Barnett.
Northend United 6 Springfield Star 0 Saturday 24th September 2021
Another trip to the Barbour playing fields this week for the U13s with Springfield Star the opponents this time. The boys started the game vibrant and took early control of the game, some good football down the right created the first goal when Ethan Drysdale beat his defender and whipped in a great ball which the keeper parried, and Corey King was there to capitalise and make it 1-0 to the blues. Similar play again shortly after created another chance, another great ball in from Ethan this time a first time shot was spilled by the Springfield keeper and Corey King was there again to tap in and make it two up for the blues and two for the fox in the box Corey King. Northend did not let up and continued pressing and playing great attacking football using the wide men wisely. By this time the forward duo of Kian McGarel and Shea McFerran were starting to find room and both where continually peppering the Springfield goal but just narrowly of target. Springfield finally got some joy when they attacked from a quick break from a Northend corner only for the forward to be brought down on the edge to give a free kick to the star. A strike that looked to be heading into the top corner was finely saved from the hands of Conor Lavelle to keep the clean sheet intact. On the stroke of half time Northend got a third another fine first time cross from Ethan was brilliantly met from a great run by Caleb Da Prato who headed the ball high over the Springfield keeper and hit the net to bring the half to a close.
Not much changed at the start of the second half, Northend continued to dominate control and a fourth was quickly on the board when Shea McFerran picked up a poor kick from the Springfield keeper and from 20 yards hit a wonder strike that went into the top right corner and surely put the game to bed. As the half continued so did the pressure from Northend and a fine splitting through ball played to Shea McFerran from strike partner Kian McGarel allowed Shea to run through on goal and round the keeper brilliantly and make it 5 to the good. Northend kept the Springfield team on the back foot and chances kept coming only for the young Springfield keeper to stand firm on many occasions. Eoin Lavelle had a good free kick well saved late on, but it was to be Northend’s and Shea McFerran’s spoils as the striker made it six in the last few minutes this time from a corner kick the ball reached the back post and Shea was there to hit the net and complete a hat-trick. This has now taken the forward duo of Kian and Shea to 8 a piece in four games, a fantastic return from both.
A fine day all round for the boys with a lot of big performance across the pitch, mentions to Kian McGarel, Shea McFerran and Kian O Neill
Player of the Match: Ethan Drysdale - tortured the Springfield star team from start to finish. A constant thorn running at Springfield and playing some fantastic football to create chances for his team-mates.
Panel: C Lavelle, A Pekala, (c) K O Neill, H Pekala, J Jamison, N Patenall, E Lavelle, C Da Prato, S McArdle, E Drysdale, C King, L Barnett, D Morrow, K McGarel, S McFerran
Northend United 2 Oxford Sunnyside 1 Saturday 18th September 2021
First time at Barbour playing fields saw the young Ballymena Pizza Parlour sponsored Northend Blues come out the right side of a narrow victory to keep their winning run in the league intact. An early start on a slow wet pitch looked from the outset that victory would have to be earned. Oxford Sunnyside setup defensively, with a view to play counter attacking football, which much more suited the conditions than Northend’s initial passing approach. The first half was one of frustration for the young blues who found it difficult to get any rhythm to their play and very hard to unlock the packed defence. They did however create a number of chances but a few goal line scrambles, some good goal keeping and the cross bar kept them at bay. The two best chances fell to striker Shea McFerran who twice broke the offside trap bearing in on goal against the Sunnyside keeper. The first bobbled on an uneven penalty box when it looked all set for the net to bulge and the second just dropped over the bar as the ball was chipped over the outrushing keeper. Oxford Sunnyside didn’t have as many chances but were much more clinical. They capitalised on a quickly taken free kick when the Northend boys were still disputing a harsh yellow card against midfielder Sam McArdle. A couple of quick passes and a bit of goal line scramble saw a calmly slotted finish which saw Sunnyside take the lead at the break. Half time 0-1
Northend were much improved after the break when they started making better use of the space outside and managed the conditions better with a more direct approach. A number of good balls into the box finally reaped rewards when Kian McGarel was harshly brought down after winning possession in the penalty area. It seemed an age before the penalty was finally allowed to be taken but it didn’t put off Kian who calmly slotted the ball away low and hard into the corner. It looked at this point that the Northend boys were going to take control when Ethan Drysdale broke through, but the keeper narrowed the angle and made a good save from close range. A number of Sunnyside counter attacks were spurned by keeper Conor Lavelle who was alert on the edge of his box to the long ball over the top of his defence. Both Kian McGarel and Caleb Da Prato were denied long range lobbed efforts at a vacated goal before Northend finally took the lead. The deadly duo up front were at it again. Initial strong wing play from Caleb da Prato on the left cut the ball back to Shea McFerran who slipped his striking partner Kian McGarel and a clinical finish saw the ball dispatched high into the roof of the net for his brace. The end to the game was a nervous affair when Oxford pushed forward to try and get the equaliser. Clearance after clearance seem to go straight back into Sunnyside possession and Northend boys found it hard to get the ball away from danger. A final clearance after a Sunnyside free kick was ran into the corner by Corey king to meet the relief of the final whistle. Again, a number of strong performances with Kian O’Neil and Adrian Pekala showing composure at the back and another clinical display by forward Kian McGarel. However, Conor Lavelle gets the plaudits after another solid performance between the sticks and good reading of the game in a sweeping role to limit the Oxford Sunnyside chances. Full Time 2-1
Player of The Match: Conor Lavelle
Panel: C Lavelle, A Pekala, K O’Neill, H Pekala, J Jamieson, N Patenall, E Lavelle (c), C Da Prato, S McArdle, E Drysdale, C King, D Morrow, K O’Neill, S McFerran
Northend United 5 Lisdrum Youth 2 Saturday 11th September 2021
It was another good day for the young Northend Side in their second competitive 11-a side fixture, in the Lisburn league. Wallace Park again but thoughts of a second win were quickly distant when a solid Lisdrum side put it up against them and the young blues knew today was going to be a battle. It was a bit nip and tuck in the first half with possession toing and froing. This was two well organised sides with very little to separate them. Northend had a few chances and felt they were gaining the upper hand but nothing would sit for them in the penalty box. The best chance of the half fell to striker Shea McFerran whose attempt at a chip was well saved by the Lisdrum keeper. Similarly, Lisdrum had a few chances but nothing significantly troubling goalkeeper Conor Lavelle. The Northend keeper’s first notable piece of work was picking the ball out of his own net after a superb free kick from Lisdrum. One that could only be applauded, and the young blues went in behind at the break. Half time 0-1
A slight adjustment to the setup at the back for Northend gave them a better footing in the second half and they responded quickly from the restart. Eoin Lavelle was the engine room in the heart of midfield and started breaking up attacks, getting his foot on the ball and dictating play. It wasn’t long before the boys were level. A well taken free kick from Kian McGarel was redirected and flicked past the keeper by Caleb Da Prato. Game on. The Northend boys pushed on and seized the initiative, dominating and taking control of the game. They didn’t hold back and after switching from the left to right wing Dylan Morrow got on the end of a cross from the left side to slot a left foot volley home from the edge of the box. The boys hadn’t nudged the lead for long before a third quickly followed. Some great link up play from Corey King and Ethan Drysdale in the midfield slipped Kian McGarel in on the last defender. Kian calmly nutmegged the defender and slotted the ball away in the top corner. Northend didn’t get a chance to ease up as Lisdrum mounted a response and counterattacked with a lob of the keeper and they were back in the game, 3-2. Tension began building in the Northend dugout with fear of their lead being swallowed but Shea McFerran was on hand to ease the pressure and slot home a fourth for the Northend boys. Northend pushed on to score another when a well driven shot from Shea McFerran was parried by the keeper and Kian McGarel followed up to score his brace. Lisdrum had a penalty late on but their consolation goal was not to be as it was superbly saved by Conor Lavelle, who had another very strong performance between the sticks. Some fantastic performances right across the pitch this week again and nice to see four different scorers. However, Eoin takes the plaudits with a real leadership performance in midfield with some fantastic tackling throughout the game breaking up a lot of Lisdrum attacks. All the boys should be very proud of their hard fought performance and thanks again to the parents for great support. Full time 5-2
Man of the Match: Eoin Lavelle
Panel: C Lavelle, A Pekala, K O’Neill, J Jamieson, N Patenall, L Barnett, E Lavelle, C Da Prato, E Drysdale, Kian McGarel (c), S McFerran, C King, D Morrow
Northend United 6 Hillsborough Boys 2 Saturday 4th September 2021
The young Northend side started the match with great intent, hounding and pressurising the Hillsborough team and very soon were ahead earning their reward with a calm slotted finish from Shea McFerran. It wasn’t long before his forward partner Kian McGarel got on the score sheet, with a great exchange of passing from the midfield and a cut back from Shea for Kian to slot home. The midfield partnership of Caleb Da Prato and Eoin Lavelle wrestled control of the game and gave the defence an easy job to do. It wasn’t long before both Kian and Shea were back on the score sheet with a dominant first half performance.
All subs were used to good effect and the balance was maintained in the second half. Hillsborough fought back hard in the second half and the back four worked really hard to keep them out including some good saves by keeper Conor Lavelle. However, the defence was finally breached with a well worked goal and further pressure earned another for Hillsborough with a free kick which was clinically dispatched. However, Northend retained control and frustrated the other team leading to some indiscipline which resulted in a penalty dispatched clinically by goalkeeper Conor Lavelle. Ethan Drysdale got on the score sheet as well by breaching the defence with his pace and Kian and Shea finished the job off with some outstanding finishing. Great performance with very single Northend player standing up from first to last whistle and playing exciting attacking football with a smile on their face.
Man of the Match: Kian McGarel - as voted by referee not only for his goals but his all-round team play, attitude and discipline. Well done boys.
Panel: C Lavelle, A Pekala, S McArdle, J Jamieson, N Patenall, D Morrow, E Lavelle (c), C Da Prato, E Drysdale, Kian McGarel, S McFerran, C King, K O’Neill, L Barnett, H Pekala