Northend United 4 Loughgall 2 Monday 23rd April 2018
To finish the season Northend took on Loughgall in extremely windy conditions. Northend had the best of the early pressure, winning a series of corners but without threatening to score. The Ballymena side did get the breakthrough when a Connor Meeke corner to the back post swirled in the wind and centre back Luke Rea judged it best to head in.
Soon after, the second goal came, Jude Currie breaking on the left and playing a through ball to Conor McDonald, who beat a defender, and then rounded the keeper brilliantly to calmly slot in.
The 2-goal cushion didn't last long as Loughgall struck back with a good shot from the edge of the area to make it 2-1. Northend again came forward, and from a free kick, a pass eventually found defender Rea in behind the defence again, and he smashed in off the bar. Half time came with the score 3-1 to Northend. Half time 3-1
Again, in the second half Loughgall reduced the deficit, beating the Northend defence and slotting home to get within 1 goal. Northend continued to push for goals though, and a through ball was cut out by the Loughgall keeper, who fluffed his lines under pressure from Niall Esler and then subsequently brought him down trying to recover and giving Northend a penalty.
Searching for a hat-trick, defender Rea stepped up, and forced a super save, only to react quickest and volley in the rebound.
The game ended 4-2 and a remarkable hat-trick from centre back Luke Rea was one of the highlights of the season for Northend.Full time 4-2
Panel: J Logan, C Forsythe, C Meeke, L Rea, J Coates, J Dallas, R Mark, J Givens, N Esler, C McDonald, J Currie, S Foster
Northend United 1 Lisburn Rangers 3 Saturday 21st April 2018
This weekend the U16s were back in league action as they faced an all too familiar Lisburn Rangers side at Barbour. This was the second time the two teams had met in the space of just a week with the previous game, a heated affair, ending in a 3-0 AET win in favour of the team from Lisburn.
Northend played the first half staring into a strong sun and despite having the better of the early possession found themselves 1-0 down after an audacious strike from the edge of the box looped over goalkeeper Jacob Logan. Northend kicked off and their first real chance of the game fell to striker Conor McDonald who had a shot from the edge of the box which went straight into the hands of the Lisburn goalkeeper. Straightaway Lisburn countered and scored their second with a wonder strike from about 25 yards out which found the top right corner of the net. Nothing goalkeeper Logan could do about it. Despite the first half being quite an even affair with not a huge amount of clear cut chances created by either side Northend found themselves trailing 2-0 at half-time.
With the sun behind their backs in the second half Northend started to increase the intensity and put the Lisburn side under a lot more pressure. Northend created chance after chance and it looked like it was going to be one of those days in front of goal. They had two chances blocked on the line and struck the post through Scott Foster. Jude Currie also found himself through on goal down the left-hand side only to drag his shot narrowly wide of the right post. With 10 minutes to go the breakthrough finally came for Northend when centre back Luke Rea stabbed home after a scramble in the box. Northend continued to press in the last 10 minutes and were caught on the counter a few times but thanks to a couple of good saves from goalkeeper Logan and a fantastic last-ditch challenge from Connor Meeke they were still well in the game with a couple of minutes to go. As Northend threw everything forward in the dying seconds Lisburn countered and tapped home their third with no time left on the clock. Full time 1-3
The score line does not reflect the game and a special mention has to go to the midfield 3 of Northend. Ryan Mark and Joseph Dallas tackled hard all game and Cameron Bailes was a real threat every time he got the ball at his feet.
Panel: J Logan, C Forsythe, L Rea, C Meeke, J Coates, R Mark, J Dallas, C Bailes, N Esler, J Currie, C McDonald, S Foster
Lisburn Rangers 0 Northend United 0 (3-0 aet) Saturday 14th April 2018
In the subsidiary cup, Lisburn Rangers were the opponent for Northend in the semi-final.The game was destined to be tight from the start, with Northend starting the game at a high pace, pressing well, but Lisburn managed to weather an early bit of pressure. A Niall Esler cross brought Northend's best chance of the half as Jude Currie volleyed it across the face of goal. Jason Givens also saw an effort saved and Conor McDonald nearly slid Givens through on goal. Half time 0-0
The second half had a bit of bite in the tackles and was played at a high intensity. Lisburn did manage to create a couple of chances which were both saved by Jacob Logan. Northend again we're close to creating some good chances but the last pass generally let them down. At full time the score was 0-0 bringing extra time. Full time 0-0
The half started with another dangerous tackle on Ryan Boomer, which brought a yellow card when many players and supporters thought more was deserved. Just after, Jacob Logan produced a very fine save.
Rangers piled on more pressure and this time the deadlock was broken when another save was tapped in on the rebound. Minutes later, when Cameron Bailes was felled but no foul was given, Rangers broke and fired a second goal in.
Northend hit back with a good free kick from McDonald forcing a save, and he also had a header fly just over. Again, the striker found space to turn and shoot excellently, and his shot crashed into the crossbar.
Sadly, with time running out, Lisburn rangers held out for the victory, with a last-minute penalty ending the game to make it 3-0.
Unlucky for Northend who on another day could have seen a lot of decisions and luck go their way
Panel: J Logan, C Forsythe, C Meeke, L Rea, J Coates, J Dallas, C Bailes, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, J Givens, R Mark, S Foster, R Boomer
TTBS 3 Northend United 2 Wednesday 11th April 2018
Northend's Lisburn Cup campaign faced them against TTBS in the competition's semi-final.
A turgid first half performance however left the game without many chances. TTBS did force Jacob Logan into 2 very good saves consecutively while at the other end Northend failed to create many clear-cut chances. Half time 0-0
The second half provided significantly more entertainment for the neutral. Firstly, TTBS upped their tempo to start to control the game more. A well-constructed attack led to a cross and the first goal was headed in to give TTBS the lead. Nerves hit the Ballymena boys and TTBS managed to double their lead soon after.
With 20 minutes to go, the Ballymena Team dug deep and found a level of intensity where they managed to seize control. Jason Givens hit the post and the rebound went to the one place Conor McDonald couldn't reach it.
Minutes later, Niall Esler won a corner and crossed it to McDonald to head over the goalkeeper and reduce the deficit.
Joseph Dallas started a few surging runs from midfield, with one setting up Cameron Bailes for a shot that went just wide. With 4 minutes to go, another Dallas break split the TTBS defence, and he passed to Esler to fire Home confidently, sparking jubious celebration.
Sadly, the goal may have led to a loss in focus, and a TTBS break when Northend pushed for the lead broke on the goal line, and the clearance was blocked and went into the net, breaking Northend hearts.
Panel: J Logan, C Forsythe, C Meeke, L Rea, J Coates, J Dallas, C Bailes, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, J Givens, R Mark, S Foster, R Boomer
Northend United 5 Banbridge Town 1 Wednesday 28th March 2018
The first midweek game of the season tipped Northend against Banbridge on Wednesday night. After a 2-2 draw earlier in the season, the Ballymena boys had a lot to prove.
They started the brighter of the teams with Jude Currie getting a lot of joy down the left-hand side but the final ball lacking some conviction.
Northend set out to play good passing football all over the pitch, and after some good passing play in defence, a diagonal ball found Jason Givens who ran across the goalkeeper and was brought down for a penalty. Captain Conor McDonald stepped up to slot into the bottom corner and take a lead. Minutes later, the lead was doubled, as again Currie found space on the left and this time his cross was glanced in by Givens.
Northend started to play some scintillating football, and passed the ball through the team for the 3rd goal, with Jason Givens finding the final pass to set up Niall Esler to fire into the far bottom corner. A superb team goal. The first half ended in superb style again as a good move again found Currie, who again crossed to Givens whose slight touch forced the ball in off a defender. Half time 4-0
In the second half, fair play to Banbridge who tried to continue passing the ball well, with Northend doing the same again. Again, Givens proved to find a crucial pass, returning the about to Currie for his earlier assists, and Jude finished across the keeper.
The subs from Northend took some momentum out of the game, and at 5-0 the game levelled out in terms of possession and territory.
Late on, Banbridge pulled a goal back from a superb finish which curled in at the far post. This was one of the performances of the season from the U16s. Full Time 5-1
Panel: Ryan Mark, Sam Stewart, Luke Rea, Callum Forsythe, Connor Meeke, Cameron Bailes, Joseph Dallas, Conor McDonald, Jason Givens, Niall Esler, Jude Currie, Ryan Boomer, Scott Foster, Josh Coates, Matthew Stewart
Northend United 0 TW Braga 2 Saturday 24th March 2018
The U16s were back in league action this week against league leaders T.W. Braga. The first half was quite an even affair with Braga edging the chances. They struck the post and forced goalkeeper Jason Givens into a number of fairly comfortable saves. Northend had their chances too. Niall Esler found himself through on goal only to be called wrongly offside. Niall had another chance as Jude Currie broke down the right-hand side and put a low cross into the box which fell to the left foot of Niall only for the Braga goalkeeper to rush out at his feet and make the save. Half-time 0-0
In the second half Northend continued to frustrate Braga as they struggled to break down the resolute Northend defence. Braga continued to pile on the pressure and struck the post once again. Northend struggled to create a lot in the second half with their best chance coming from a shot from Jude Currie from inside the right-hand side of the box which forced the Braga keeper into a good save. From the resulting corner Northend caused havoc in the box with claims of a hand ball, nothing was given. With about 8 minutes to go the deadlock was finally broken. A lucky bounce of the ball and Braga found themselves through on goal to slot past keeper Givens. With the last kick of the game Braga scored a second with a magnificent free-kick from about 25 yards out on the right-hand side. Full-time 0-2
Special mentions have got to go to goalkeeper Givens and the back four of Sam Stewart, Callum Forsythe, Luke Rea and Connor Meeke who put their bodies on the line and defended heroically throughout the game.
Man of the Match: Luke Rea
Panel: J Givens, S Stewart, C Forsythe, L Rea, C Meeke, R Marks, J Dallas, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, S Foster, R Boomer
Northend United 2 Downpatrick 1 Saturday 10th March 2018
After progressing into the quarter finals of the Lisburn League Cup, Northend took on Downpatrick for a place in the semis.
Northend started with a high intensity and caused Downpatrick plenty of problems. Jude Currie had an early opening down the left and shit across the keeper forcing a good save down low. The midfield energy and vision caused Banbridge lots of bother as the front 3 managed to continuously get in behind the Downpatrick defence. Conor McDonald saw a curling left footed effort go narrowly wide, and another effort from Cameron Bailes flew past the opposite upright.
At the back the defence were solid throughout the half, and apart from one very good challenge from keeper Givens, he didn't have much to do.
At the other end again, a cross from Niall Esler flew across the face of goal, and Matthew Stewart later faced the ball against the post. The half time score was 0-0 after Northend completely dominated the half. Half time 0-0
The second half started slightly more evenly, but again Northend seized the initiative. The deadlock was broken when a good Jude Currie run and cross was collected by Esler who controlled and fired Home.
The score line was nearly extended when again a Northend effort hit the post. Completely against the run of play, Downpatrick got an equaliser. A deep cross was headed onto the bar and the rebound was tapped in.
Northend went in search of an equaliser. Twice Zach Clarke was sent clear of the defence but failed to capitalise. Northend completely camped themselves outside the Downpatrick defence but couldn't grab the winner. In extra time, Niall Esler ran onto a long ball from Jason Givens and passed it past the goalkeeper. The goal proved to be the winner as Downpatrick didn't get the equaliser and Jude Currie again hit the post in the last seconds with a lobbed attempt. This was a well-deserved win for the Ballymena boys. Full time 2-1
Panel: J Givens, J Dallas, L Rea, C Meeke, J Coates, C Bailes, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, C Forsythe, Z Clarke
Northend United 0 TTBS 1 Saturday 24th February 2018
This week Northend faced a tough TTBS side. The Ballymena boys started the physical encounter slightly on top, with Joseph Dallas imperious in midfield. However, they struggled to force any real chances. TTBS applied some pressure later in the first half, but Ryan Mark did well to claw a shot off the line
Jude Currie had Northend's best chance as he sound space on the right-hand side of the box but hit the side netting. It was a first half in which the defences came out on top. Half time 0-0
The second half was much the same story, with Ryan Mark again making a super save with his feet.
Northend fashioned a good chance for Currie again but he was incorrectly called offside when clean through.
Sickeningly, with nearly the last kick, a cross for TTBS found a free head in the box, and the shot angled into the corner for a 1-0 win. Full time 0-1
Panel: R Mark, J Dallas, L Rea, C Meeke, J Coates, C Forsythe, C Bailes, S Stewart, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, S Foster, R Boomer, Z Clarke
Dromore 1 Northend United 1 Saturday 17th February 2018
This Saturday's Daily Mirror covered match in Lisburn was the 3rd league meeting of Northend and Dromore this season. With both previous games being extremely close, it was to be expected that this would be no different.
The first chance to come dell to Northend as Niall Esler found space on the right and shot straight at the Dromore keeper. In a game that was scrappy, and in general devoid of quality, the breakthrough came from one very good Northend attack. Conor McDonald found space in midfield and scooped a pass over the defence for Jude Currie, who's rifled left footed shot when in at the near post.
With Northend holding possession well and really not being troubled in defence, it took a Northend mistake to gift the equaliser back to Dromore. After losing the ball in midfield from a loose touch, the first attack was stopped, but the clearance scuffed to a Dromore player, who crossed to a teammate and smashed in.
Soon after, another defensive mistake let Dromore striker in on goal and keeper Jason Givens stayed big, forced the chip and luckily it went over. Esler also forced another good save with a shot across the goal after getting free again. Half time 1-1
In the second half the same story, with neither team finding a rhythm and dominating the game.
Matthew Stewart was played through by the magnificent Cameron Bailes, but scuffed his shot wide, however it looked as though he was tripped as he went to shoot.
Dromore also had a header hit the bar from a corner and Givens produced a fine save from another scuffed clearance. Bailes however looked the best player on the pitch in the second half and nearly made the difference. First a sublime run beat 3 Dromore players and as he was about to shoot a brilliant last-ditch tackle came in.
Then, minutes later, a near carbon copy brilliant dribble beat the whole Dromore defence, and as he bore in on goal his driven shot was superbly tipped over.
As the game came to a close, Ross Kerr had one final chance as a through ball found him in behind the defence but the ball was just slightly too hard to control and the chance was gone, and the final whistle followed. Full time 1-1
Panel: J Givens, J Dallas, L Rea, C Meeke, J Coates, C Forsythe, C Bailes, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, S Foster, R Boomer, R Kerr, R Mark
Northend United 3 Loughgall 1 Saturday 3rd February 2018
Northend U16s played in the first round of the Lisburn League Cup, taking on a Loughgall side who had won the previous league meeting.
Northend started the game fantastically well. An early Jude Currie free kick was swung into a perfect area, and an unmarked Callum Forsythe probably should have done better but nodded his free header over the bar. The early miss did not deter the Blues however, as their slick passing and high energy caused major problems for Loughgall.Jude Currie was a constant threat on the left wing, with Conor McDonald and Cameron Bailes looking dangerous from midfield every time they got the Ball.
For all Northend's free flowing attacking, it was a set piece that brought the breakthrough. A short corner routine between Currie and McDonald was actually defended, but Forsythe was strong to keep the ball alive and poke it to McDonald. From here, a moment of magic came from the captain, as a quick Cruyff turn took him past a defender, and a drilled cross was nodded home by defender Luke Rea for his first of the season.
A second came soon after, this time with the free-flowing football bringing a sublime team goal. After some play in midfield, the ball was rolled into striker Matthew Stewart, who's layoff to McDonald created space and then his first time through ball got Jude Currie in behind the defence. Currie drove on and then a pinpoint cross found Niall Esler who headed home. A goal that the coaches were particularly happy with.
Currie again found a perfect cross to Stewart minutes later but unluckily his touch at knee height just got away from him.
A 3rd goal in 20 minutes came again as a deep free kick was played perfectly to the back post by Connor Meeke and Niall Esler volleyed home for his second. A good finish but the credit has to go to Meeke for a superb cross which was nearly undefendable.
Half time came soon after with no further score, with the tempo dropping after an injury break for a Northend player. Half time 3-0
The second half was played in a much more controlled manner with chances at a premium, again, two good crosses from the right brought chances for Meeke and Stewart with both players failing to get the purchase on their shots, and at the other end Jason Givens made an excellent save from a free kick to keep the gap at three.
From another Northend counter, from a cross in towards Esler he was hauled to the ground for what looked like a penalty but the referee was unmoved.
Then, three minutes from the end, Northend gave away a penalty as a hanging leg caught a Loughgall attacker and this was put away to take the gloss off an excellent performance Full time 3-1
Panel: J Givens, S Stewart, L Rea, C Meeke, J Coates, C Forsythe, J Dallas, C Bailes, J Currie, N Esler, C McDonald, M Stewart, J Dallas, Z Clarke, R Mark
Dromore Amateurs 2 Northend United 2 Saturday 13th January 2018
Northend 2002s returned from the Christmas break with a cracking match against the league's 2nd placed team, Dromore.
Despite the break, the game was far from sluggish, with both teams looking to attack at high tempo. Early on, Niall Esler proved to be a real threat on numerous occasions, forcing an early substitution at full back to try and contain him. In attack with Matthew Stewart and Jude Currie, the front 3 caused problems, and Northend went closest to scoring when an Esler cross/shot was fired across goal, and Stewart just couldn't stretch enough for what would have been a tap in had he reached the ball.
At the other end, while Northend had the most possession, Dromore showed why they are so highly placed with lightning quick counter attacks. After a superb save from Jason Givens keeping them out before another attack led to a shot hitting the post. Eventually, the breakthrough was found, as another counter attack led to a cross and good header which found the corner.
Just before half time, Northend found their response. A clever low corner routine from Currie was drilled into captain Conor McDonald, and whilst his shot was inadvertently blocked by a Northend player, the rebound was forced home by Esler. 1-1 was a fair score at the interval. Half time 1-1
The start of the second half fully belonged to Northend however. McDonald began pulling all the strings in midfield, and seemed to be able to beat players at will. First, Ryan Mark's diving header went narrowly wide after good enterprise by Esler, and then opposite winger Currie also found space to drill a cross to Stewart, who in turn laid off Esler and he would have scored but for a brilliant block. Givens was again called into superb action at the other end and produced an outstanding save from a close-range effort.
Eventually, McDonald's dominance brought fruit, and a through pass was touched past the keeper and tapped in by Matthew Stewart 5 minutes from time. Dromore threw the kitchen sink in search of an equaliser, and when it looked as though the defence would hold, in added time, Dromore goalkeeper came up with an unlikely equaliser scoring from a corner.
In the end, a draw was maybe a fair result after a superb game played in great spirit and fairness from both teams and an excellent advert for the Lisburn Youth League. Full time 2-2
Panel: J Givens, R Boomer, L Rea, C Forsythe, J Coates, S Stewart, R Mark, C McDonald, J Currie, N Esler, M Stewart, S Foster