Northend United 1 Annalong Rovers 2 Saturday 10th March 2018
This week saw the top two teams in the league face each other in the semi-final of the cup. The atrocious weather conditions made it difficult for both sides to get into any sort of rhythm. Northend were playing into the wind and had to defend resolutely for long periods of the first half. The back four of Sam Crawford, David McKay, David Magill and Owen Campbell stood up well to the challenge; and Sam McDowell's handling was excellent throughout. Annalong edged themselves ahead on twenty minutes when a through ball found an unmarked player in the Northend area. Northend responded well and had a strong penalty claim waved away on twenty-five minutes when Lewis Hector was pulled down in the box as he raced through on goal from Kai Barr's pass. Half-time 0-1
The Ballymena boys had the benefit of the stiff breeze at their back in the second half and immediately started to press for the equaliser. Efforts from Jack McIlhatton and Kevin Cosgrove in the opening minutes of the half set the tone for the remainder of the game. The blues drew level on seven minutes when Tyrone Mitchell burst through on goal and calmly lobbed the Annalong keeper from the edge of the area. For the next ten minutes Northend pressed hard for a second, Jack Adams was linking up play in the middle of the pitch, but some excellent defending prevented the blues from extending their lead. It was very much against the run of play when Annalong snatched a second goal following some good build up play. The Ballymena boys dug deep and pushed forward again, dominating the last ten minutes of the game and had two efforts cleared off the line in this period. It just wasn't their day. Full-time 1-2
A great team effort in some atrocious weather and on another day the score line could easily have been quite different.
Man of the Match: Sam McDowell - a solid performance on a very difficult day for the keepers.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, O Campbell, D Magill, D McKay, J Adams, K Cosgrove, T Mitchell, K Barr, L Hector, J McIlhatton, C Wilson, T Speers
Glendowan 3 Northend United 1 Saturday 24th February 2018
A lacklustre performance saw Northend's recent good run of form come to an end against a physically strong Glendowan side. The Ballymena boys had three players missing through injury although the opening period was a hard-fought affair and there was little between the two sides. Curtis Wilson worked hard in a new striking role and almost opened the scoring on eighteen minutes when his effort struck the foot of the post and rolled to safety. Jack Adams and David Magill were on top of their game in the centre of defence and looked solid throughout with some crisp tackling and strong defensive play. Jack McIlhatton made a good run in behind the Glendowan defence on twenty-five minutes, but saw his shot drift wide of the upright. As the half drew to a close Glendowan took the lead through a well struck free-kick. Half-time 1-0
Northend started to find a better rhythm to their play in the early part of the second half and a number of chances came their way as a result. Lewis Hector's in-swinging corner was volley narrowly wide by Jack Adams on eight minutes and it looked as though the blues were gradually starting to dominate the midfield. The equaliser came on twelve minutes when a great pass from Connor McKenna picked out a Lewis Hector run into the goal area, Lewis took a sublime touch and squared the ball to Troy Speers who neatly finished from six yards out. Glendowan kept driving forward from the back and when Northend took their foot off the pedal in midfield, the Belfast scored two quick fire goals to snatch a victory. Full-time 3-1
The boys just never got into their stride today but responded well when they went behind and showed some fighting spirit in the latter stages of the game.
Men of the match: Jack Adams and David Magill - both players showed great determination and were well up for the physical battle against a strong Glendowan side.
Panel: D Gregg, D McLoughlin, J Adams, O Campbell, D Magill, K Cosgrove, C McKenna, K Barr, L Hector, J McIlhatton, C Wilson, T Speers
Northend United 1 Hillsborough Colts 0 Saturday 17th February 2018
The U14s extended their unbeaten run to four games with a strong team performance against a resolute Hillsborough squad. The Ballymena boys started the game brightly with some slick passing and dominated the first half of the game. Connor McKenna split the Hillsborough defence on twelve minutes with a well weighted pass for Kai Barr although the Hillsborough keeper made a good reaction save to keep the game level. Moments later Kai Barr and Tyrone Mitchell combined well on the edge of the area to create space for Kevin Cosgrove who shot narrowly wide. Sam McDowell had little to do in goals in behind David Magill and David McKay who were strong in the tackle and gave the Hillsborough attack little time on the ball; Owen Campbell and Jack Adams were providing good width and looked comfortable going forward with the ball. On the twenty minute mark the blues looked to have taken the lead when Jack McIlhatton played a neat one two with Kai Barr on the edge of the area, but shot narrowly over the bar from ten yards. The game should have been well beyond doubt at this point and Lewis Hector was tormenting his opponent along the right wing, but some strong defending and good handling from the keeper kept Hillsborough in the game. As the half drew to a close Tyrone Mitchell drove to the by-line and cut a pass back to Jack McIlhatton who saw his effort cleared off the goal line. Half-time 0-0
The Blues started the second half on the front foot and restricted Hillsborough to a single chance in the entire half. Dylan McLoughlin was quick to the ball and enjoyed some good possession going forward, but Hillsborough certainly worked that little bit harder for a ten-minute spell and restricted the amount of time Northend enjoyed on the ball. Kevin Cosgrove had a shot blocked after twenty minutes and Tyrone Mitchell forced a good save from the keeper moments later. With five minutes of the game remaining Lewis Hector flicked an effort past the keeper but saw his effort scrambled off the line; the ball was only cleared as far as Owen Campbell who picked up the loose ball on the edge of the area and smashed his effort past the keeper from twenty yards. Hillsborough forced a corner deep into injury time but David Gregg punched the cross clear and Northend's supporters celebrated a well-deserved victory to maintain top spot in the league. Full-time 1-0
The boys looked sharp today and clearly benefitted from the visit of the Blackburn Rovers coaching staff during the mid-term break. The boys have also been extended an offer to play the Blackburn Academy team at the First Team training facilities in April, with a number of players having been picked out during the coaching staffs visit and being kept under a close watch by the scouts for the remainder of the season.
Man of the Match: Kai Barr - linked the play up well and was unlucky not to score.
Panel: S McDowell, J Adams, O Campbell, D Magill, D McKay, K Cosgrove, C McKenna, T Mitchell, L Hector, J McIlhatton, K Barr, D Gregg, D McLoughlin
Northend United 2 Glendowan 0 Saturday 27th January 2018
The U14s made if three wins in a row with a hard-working display against a physical Glendowan side. With a strong wind blowing throughout the game both sides found it difficult to get any rhythm to their play, although it was the Ballymena boys who enjoyed the majority of possession and produced some excellent wing play through Jack McIlhatton and Lewis Hector. The opening goal came on twenty minutes when a Connor McKenna free-kick broke to the unmarked Kevin Cosgrove in the Glendowan box and the young midfielder confidently drilled his effort across goal and into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. David Gregg looked comfortable in goal and demonstrated some great handling with a number of crosses being tossed into the Northend area. Half-time 1-0.
The strong wind picked up in the second half and made the conditions even more difficult. Northend continued to try and keep the ball on the ground and Kai Barr found time to create space in the middle of the pitch. The blues second goal came on ten minutes when Jack McIlhatton smashed a volley in off the cross bar from the edge of the area. Northend continued to push forward but had to be on their toes as Glendowan looked to play on the counter attack. David Magill and Owen Campbell both made telling challenges towards the end of the game, but it was Northend's day and this result puts them three points clear at the top of the league. Full-time 2-0.
This was a difficult game today and best wishes go to Connor McKenna who suffered a heavy blow to the head in the first half.
Man of the Match: Kevin Cosgrove - covered every inch of grass on the pitch.
Panel: David Gregg, Dylan McLoughlin, Owen Campbell, David Magill, David McKay, Jack Adams, Kevin Cosgrove, Connor McKenna, Sam Crawford, Lewis Hector, Jack McIlhatton, Kai Barr, Troy Spiers
Lisburn Distillery 0 Northend United 4 Saturday 13th January 2018
The U14s picked up where they'd finished before Christmas with a convincing win over Lisburn Distillery with new signings David Gregg and Jack Manson making a good impression on their debut for the team. Northend started the game brightly and went close to scoring in the opening seconds with some good passing play. The Blues didn't have to wait long for the opener, Lewis Hector's fifth minute corner was only partially cleared and Jack McIlhatton blasted the loose ball into the roof of the net from the edge of the area. The Ballymena boys were on fire as they moved the ball out from the back and through midfield to create a succession of chances. David Magill and David McKay were solid at the heart of Northend's defence throughout the game and gave the Lisburn attack no room or time on the ball. It was almost two nil on ten minutes when Kevin Cosgrove and Tyrone Mitchell combined and Tyrone's shot went inches past the upright. Moments later Jack Manson set up Lewis Hector on the right-hand side of the box and Lewis's thunderous shot hot rippled the side netting. Owen Campbell and Jack Adams were providing some great width from their positions at full back and fed a number of dangerous crosses into the goalmouth. With six minutes remaining Kai Barr created space in the box and forced a good save from the keeper. Distillery defended resolutely to half-time but it was only a matter of time before the blues turned the screw. Half-Time 1-0
The Ballymena boys continued to move the ball about crisply from the restart and were two ahead in the third minute of the half when Kai Barr slipped the ball through to Lewis Hector and his low drilled shot beat the keeper from a tight angle. The Blues third goal arrived ten minutes later when Tyrone Mitchell lobbed a pass behind the 'Whites' defence for Lewis Hector who again produced a smart finish. The result was now well beyond doubt but the best goal of the game arrived on twenty minutes when Troy Spiers ran onto a loose ball and smashed a twenty-five yard half-volley into the top corner of the net. Kevin Cosgrove and Tyrone Mitchell had a firm grip on the middle of the pitch throughout the game and the pace of Jack McIlhatton and Lewis Hector along either wing caused Distillery all manner of problems. Full-time 4-0
A convincing win for the U14s today and a great all-round team performance. Keep this going boys!
Men of the Match: Team Performance.
Panel: D Gregg, J Adams, O Campbell, D Magill, D McKay, K Cosgrove, T Mitchell, K Barr, L Hector, J McIlhatton, J Manson, T Spiers