Northend United 4 Glendowan 1 Saturday 2nd December 2017
A strong all-round team performance saw Northend dominate this game from the very first whistle and the score line could have been much wider but for an outstanding performance from the Glendowan keeper. The Ballymena boys were almost two up in the opening ten minutes when Lewis Hector and Sam Crawford both went close. The Northend defence were simply too strong for their opponents and Sam Crawford was commanding in goals, marshalling the players in front of him to good effect. Despite enjoying the majority of possession, the opening goal didn't arrive until the final ten minutes of the half, Owen Campbell burst forward from left back and cut inside to square the ball to Connor McKenna on the edge of the area. Connor intelligently laid the ball off to Lewis Hector, who shot home his first of the game from twenty yards. It was two nil within minutes of the re-start, a slick passing move along the left wing between Jack McIlhatton, Tyrone Mitchell and Owen Campbell opened up the Glendowan defence. Connor McKenna's rifled effort was well saved by the keeper although Sam Crawford was on hand to force the loose ball over the line. Half-time 2-0
In recent weeks, the Ballymena boys have started the second half of games slowly and paid a heavy price. It certainly wasn't the case this week, with Jack McIlhatton and Kevin Cosgrove both going agonisingly close to scoring in the opening six minutes. Jack Adams was having a strong game in an unfamiliar right back role, David McKay and David Magill were back to their best in the heart of defence, and Owen Campbell was both impressive when defending and a threat bursting forward from left back. Northend tested the Glendowan keeper on several occasions from a series of free-kicks and corners, although there was little that he could do when David McKay's smashed home a half-volley from a Lewis Hector corner. Kevin Cosgrove, Connor McKenna and Tyrone Mitchell were simply too strong in midfield and although Glendowan pulled a consolation goal back on twenty minutes, the result was never in doubt. Several niggling challenges were clamped down on by the referee and Northend continued to dominate the game. With ten minutes remaining Northend produced another good piece of play when Connor McKenna cut a pass back from the by-line to Lewis Hector who coolly slotted home from six yards. Glendowan's frustration led to some moments of indiscipline in the final stages of the game, Northend stood their ground and finished the game strongly. Full-time 4-1
A very good performance and one which lifts the boys a couple of positions in the league. The hard work in training was clear to see today, with much better possession and a more clinical feel to the attacking play. Well done and keep it going boys!
Men of the Match: David McKay and Connor McKenna - both players worked hard and made a big contribution to the team.
Panel: S McDowell, J Adams, O Campbell, D Magill, D McKay, T Mitchell, K Cosgrove, C McKenna, J McIlhatton, S Crawford, L Hector, and K Barr.
Windmill Stars 6 Northend United 2 Saturday 25th November 2017
The score line suggests this was a one-sided affair, however it was anything but in terms of possession and the number of opportunities created by both sides. The deciding factor was a little greater fortune falling to the Newry side, with the Ballymena boys cursing the woodwork and some missed tackles as the difference between the two sides. Northend made a strong start to the game and went ahead after five minutes when Sam Crawford played a clever ball towards the on-running Jack McIlhatton who cut a cross back from the by line to Tyrone Mitchell, and the midfielder fired home from ten yards. Northend almost doubled their lead on eight minutes when Tyrone Mitchell fired a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area. Windmill pulled themselves back onto level terms after twenty minutes although Northend almost went ahead on the half-hour mark when Sam Crawford created an opening for Lewis Hector to test the keeper. As the half drew to a close Windmill edged themselves in front when Northend failed to challenge a strong run from midfield. Half-time 1-2
Windmill edged further ahead in the opening minute when a long-range effort was deflected off a Northend defender and left Sam McDowell no chance to re-adjust his feet. The Ballymena boys picked themselves up and pulled a goal back from the restart when Kevin Cosgrove made a run to the by line and chipped a cross to the back post where Lewis Hector forced the ball into the goal. A hectic goalmouth scramble led to Windmill scoring again against the run of play and the difference in luck was evident a minute later when Kevin Cosgrove's close-range volley was edged over the bar. The Ballymena boys continued to work hard and Troy Speers came on to make his debut for the club. Full-time 2-6
It was Windmill who ran out as the eventual winners and Northend could only reflect upon how their luck had well and truly deserted them during the game. The positives were clear, some good possession football and a good team spirt which will take this young side a long way in the years to come. The return fixture in a few weeks will be one to look out for.
Man of the Match: Sam Crawford - worked tirelessly throughout the game.
Panel: S McDowell, D McLoughlin, O Campbell, D Magill, D McKay, J Adams, T Mitchell, K Cosgrove, J McIlhatton, S Crawford, L Hector, K Barr and T Speers
Northend United 2 Warrenpoint Town 5 Saturday 18th November 2017
It was a game of two halves as Northend entertained the reigning league champions in an all action encounter at Barbour Playing Fields. The Ballymena boys started the game at a blistering pace and dominated the early part of the game. Lewis Hector went close in the opening minute and was a constant threat along the right wing throughout the half. Jack McIlhatton was also enjoying some space along the left wing and opened the scoring on twenty minutes with crisp finish from the edge of the area following some good build-up play involving several Northend players. Warrenpoint pulled a goal back within minutes, although Northend put this set back behind them and again controlled the game for the remainder of the half. Every player looked on top o their game during the first half and some of the play reflected the hard work this group have put into their training in recent weeks. With five minutes of the half remaining, Lewis Hector fizzed a corner towards goal and a Warrenpoint boot could do little to avoid turning the ball into their own net. Half-time 1-2
The second half was a complete opposite to the first, Northend started slowly and lost two goals in the opening five minutes. The Ballymena boys gradually played their way back into the game and were almost level at the mid-point of the half when Tyrone Mitchell tested the Warrenpoint keeper. Northend looked to be on the cusp of drawing level when they conceded a silly goal with ten minutes remaining. Try as they might, the Ballymena boys couldn't find another goal and Warrenpoint put a flattering look to the scoreline in the final minute of the game. Full-time 5-2
The first half display was arguably the best the Northend boys have produced this season with great movement and width in their play.
Man of the Match: Lewis Hector - was on fire in the first half and could easily have had a hat-trick in the opening twenty minutes.
Panel: S McDowell, D McLoughlin, O Campbell, D Magill, D McKay, J Adams, T Mitchell, K Cosgrove, J McIlhatton, K Barr, L Hector, S Crawford and C McMurray.
Northend United 1 Immaculata 3 Saturday 4th Nov 2017
Northend hosted Immaculata (the South Belfast Premier League leaders) in the NIBFA Cup at the Ballymena Showgrounds on Saturday morning in front of a bumper home crowd. The Ballymena side had lost three players to injury following the previous week's game, but with the squad stretched, a number of boys laid their claim to a starting spot with some very impressive displays. Both sides started the game in a determined mood and the early exchanges were evenly balanced. Immaculata took the lead on twelve minutes when a high swirling cross fell to an unmarked player in the box who wasted no time in firing home from ten yards. Northend continued to pressurise their opponents and Callum McMurray worked hard to link their attacking play. Jack McIlhatton was starting to enjoy some space along the left wing and a few gaps were starting to appear in the Belfast sides defence. It was Immaculata though who edged themselves further ahead on twenty-five minutes when Northend only partially cleared a high ball into the box. The Ballymena side continued to play some good football and David Magill almost pulled a goal back when he smashed an in-swinging corner, inches over the bar. Northend were finishing the half strongly and Tyrone Mitchell created space on the edge of the area before firing a twenty-yard effort narrowly past the upright. Half-time 0-2
Northend were playing into a strong breeze during the second half and looked composed when moving the ball forward. David Magill made a goal line clearance in the early part of the half, but it was the Ballymena boys who were on top for the majority of the game. Kevin Cosgrove impressed in midfield, as did Owen Campbell, and Sam Crawford in defence. Northend got a deserved goal with fifteen minutes remaining when Jack McIlhatton and Kai Barr combined along the left wing and Lewis Hector nipped in at the back post to finish of a good piece of play. The boys went through the gears in search of an equaliser and every one of them made a huge contribution; Curtis Wilson began the game in nets and finished it as a striker, Troy Speers came on to make his debut in midfield and Sam McDowell looked very assured when he went into goals at half-time. David McKay was inches away from converting a corner with five minutes remaining and it only looked a matter of time before the Ballymena boys would score again. Three minutes from the end Immaculata pushed forward and high looping shot found its way into the goal. Northend's never say die attitude continued and a Kai Barr volley forced a good save from the keeper in the final minute. Full-time 1-3
It was a great game of football between two evenly matched sides and on another day Northend could just as easily have walked away with a win. The Ballymena sides focus now turns to catching up on a number of league fixtures and with this level of performance the boys will shortly be climbing the table.
Men of the Match: Sam McDowell looked very assured in goals and Sam Crawford had a good game at full-back.
Panel: C Wilson, S Crawford, O Campbell, D Magill, D McKay, T Mitchell, K Cosgrove, K Barr, C McMurray, L Hector, J McIlhatton, S McDowell, T Speers