Northend United 1 Lisburn Youth 2 Saturday 7th March 2020
The Blues got off to a difficult start in this League Cup group stage fixture when they gave away possession in the opening twenty seconds and saw a high swirling cross fly above the keeper and into the goal. The Ballymena boys put that early set back behind them and immediately looked determined to pull themselves back into the game. With a few players absent due to illness and injury, the team had a slightly different look to it with a few of the boys playing in unfamiliar positions. Northend looked to have equalised after eleven minutes when Kai Barr's shot from the edge of the area was parried by the keeper and Peter Bristow was the first to re-act to the loose ball, however the young midfielder was adjudged to have been off-side, a decision which looked at best odd given his position when Kai's shot was taken. Lisburn still carried a threat and Sam McDowell produced a fine save on twenty three minutes to keep Northend in the game. As half time approached Northend brought the game back onto a level footing when Paul O'Boyle beat two men on the edge of the area before thundering an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net. Half-time 1-1
There was always a slight edge to the game and Northend more than held their ground with each tackle being keenly contested. Lewis Hector went close with a long range effort on ten minutes and Peter Bristow almost converted a driven ball across the six yard box moments later. Lisburn were again threatening from set plays and it took a last ditch tackle from David Magill and a fine save by Sam McDowell to deny them at the mid-point of the half. Northend again pressed forward and Kai Barr had an effort from the edge of the area which shaved the cross bar. As the game entered injury time Lisburn took the lead in the dying seconds with a headed effort from an in-swinging corner to steal a victory in a very evenly matched game. Full-time 1-2
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, P O'Boyle, J Adams, D Magill, E McCormac, C McKenna, L Hector, P Bristow, O Campbell, K Barr, T Mitchell
Northend United 0 Dungannon Youth 4 MUYL Cup Sat 22nd February 2020
The 2004s needed a good performance in this league cup quarter final fixture and in the end the score-line didn't fairly reflect just how close the game actually was, with little between the two teams, and Dungannon benefiting from couple of slices of luck which made the difference at key points in the game. It was Northend who created the first clear opportunity after two minutes when Owen Campbell forced a good save from the keeper. The Blues had to dig deep playing into the strong breeze and the back four kept the Dungannon attack at bay for most of the half. Dungannon edged themselves in-front after twenty minutes when a high ball into the area drifted on the wind and soared into the net. The Blues put this behind them and almost pulled themselves level with five minutes remaining when Lewis Hector shot narrowly wide. Half-time 0-1
With the wind at their back Northend pressed forward looking for a goal to bring them back into the game and it was a cruel twist when they went further behind after a long punt up field allowed Dungannon to catch the Blues with a swift counter attack. The Ballymena boys dug deep and put more pressure onto the Dungannon defence with Paul O'Boyle shooting narrowly over the bar and Peter Bristow testing the keeper from twenty yards. As the entered the final stages Northend committed players further forward and wee undone by two fortuitous goals to put a slant on the final score which didn't reflect the balance of play. Full-time 0-4
The boys need to put this game behind them and get back to their early season form as they now concentrate on the Mid Ulster Premiership.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, C McCann, J Adams, D Magill, P O'Boyle, T Mitchell, O Campbell, K Barr, L Hector, R Wallace, E McCormac and P Bristow
Rosario 2 Northend United 1 NIBFA Cup Saturday 15th February 2020
The 2004s narrowly missed out on a place in the quarter finals of the NIBFA Cup after a keenly fought encounter with Belfast side Rosario. The Ballymena boys were on the back foot for the opening ten minutes as Rosario sought to make an early impression on the game. Despite some resolute defending that early pressure gave the Belfast side the lead, but also prompted a good response from the blues who went close to equalising from the re-start when a Conn McCann shot from outside of the area caused the Rosario keeper some difficulty. The Ballymena side played their way into the game and were now enjoying the majority of possession and it was after a pro-longed period of pressure the blues pulled themselves level when Paul O'Boyle released Owen Campbell through on goal and the young striker expertly drilled a low shot past the on-rushing keeper. As the half drew to a close Northend were pushing forward looking for the lead and a good piece of play created an opening for Kai Barr whose shot on goal was blocked by a last ditch tackle in the penalty area. Half-time 1-1
There was a keen edge to the game throughout, although this spilled over into a number of late challenges as the second half progressed with no fewer than four yellow cards being issued to the Belfast side. Northend kept their discipline and almost took the lead after ten minutes when Owen Campbell again broke away on goal and was scythed by a late and high tackle by the last remaining defender, the young striker attempted to keep his balance and forced a great save from the Rosario keeper, the referee choose to overlook the tackle and what should have been a cast iron dismissal was waved away. Both sides showed great commitment in difficult playing conditions and this lead to an entertaining game for large crowd that had gathered along the side-lines. As the half progressed, Sam McDowell was caught with two late challenges in Northend's goal, neither of which were punished by the referee and with ten minutes remaining the referee again ignored an obvious late challenge as the keeper rose to collect a cross which led to a goal-mouth scramble and the ball being forced over the line to give Rosario the lead. The blues continued to play some excellent football and a string of late corners piled pressure onto the Rosarion defence, but that all important goal just wouldn't fall Northend's way. Full-time 2-1
The boys gave a really good account of themselves in a tricky away fixture and should be proud of reaching this stage of the competition. The big games keep coming though with next week's quarter-final of the Mid Ulster League Cup against Dungannon Swifts
Man of the Match: Conn McCann - a great game at left back and terrific energy throughout.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, C McCann, J Adams, D Magill, P O'Boyle, T Mitchell, C McKenna, O Campbell, K Barr, L Hector, and Rory Wallace.
Northend United 3 Cookstown Youth 3 Saturday 8th February 2020
For the second week in a row a strong breeze at Wallace Park made playing conditions very difficult for both sides and once again played an important part in the game. The Ballymena boys played into the wind in the first half and almost went ahead in the opening minute when Owen Campbell lobbed the keeper but saw his effort fall on the wrong side of the upright. Cookstown were pressing forward with the wind at their tails and took the lead after eleven minutes when Northend lost possession in midfield. The blues almost drew themselves level at the midpoint of the half when Rory Wallace delivered a good early cross into the box and Lewis Hector's shot went inches over the bar. Moments later Paul O'Boyle drilled a half volley inches past the upright from twenty yards and it only looked a matter of time before the blues would pull themselves level. With five minutes remaining Cookstown benefited from a slice of luck when a long distance free-kick into the Northend area got caught on the breeze and soared into the roof of the net. Half-time 0-2
The Ballymena boys knew they had a difficult task on hand in the second half and that became even harder when they conceded a third within five minutes of the re-start. This fired the blues into life and after a good passing move Rory Wallace almost pulled a goal back for the Ballymena side. Moments later Northend had a strong claim for a penalty discounted by the referee after what appeared to be a clear hand ball. The momentum was now with the Ballymena boys and with fifteen minutes remaining the elusive breakthrough came when Paul O'Boyle chested a crossed ball in the penalty area before smashing home an all important goal. The blues were now dominating the game and their second came when Lewis Hector drilled a shot into goal from a tight angle. Tyrone Mitchell then almost brought the game level with thunderous effort from twenty five yards which the Cookstown keeper brilliantly tipped over the bar. The keeper produced another fine save with seven minutes remaining to deny Lewis Hector and again from Owen Campbell in the next phase of play. With five minutes remaining Connor McKenna smashed home a thirty yard free-kick to bring the blues level. Full-time 3-3
With fifteen minutes to go a draw was potentially an unlikely outcome, though on balance this still feels like two points dropped in the race for the premiership title. A big game next week against Rosario in the last 16 of the NIBFA Cup and the boys will need to start the game a little more quickly if they want to progress to the quarter finals of that prestigious competition.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, D McLaughlin, J Adams, D Magill, P O'Boyle, R Wallace, C McKenna, O Campbell, K Barr, L Hector, C McCann, T Mitchell, P Bristow, E McCormac.
Lurgan Town 1 Northend United 0 Saturday 1st February 2020
A strong breeze at Wallace Park made playing conditions very difficult for both sides in this game and as a result there were very few goal-scoring opportunities at either end. The Ballymena boys had the wind at their backs in the first half but couldn't turn that to their advantage. The Blues came close after seven minutes when Kai Barr cut a dangerous ball across the six yard box but no Northend player could prod the loose ball into the goal, moments later Lewis Hector forced the Lurgan keeper into a good save with long range effort. Lurgan benefited from a slice of luck at the mid-point of the half when a corner kick was headed towards Northend's goal and found its way into the net after taking two wicked deflections. The Blues almost equalised before half-time when a well worked set piece saw Connor McKenna's shot skim of the top of the cross-bar. Half-time 1-0
The Ballymena boys tried to keep the ball on the ground as they played into a stiff breeze in the second half and some resolute defending reduced Lurgan to a handful of chances. Sam McDowell made a smart one-handed save after ten minutes and had a good game in goal looking assured throughout. Around the fifteen minute mark, Conn McCann was pulled to the ground when through on goal and what looked to be a strong claim for a penalty was waved on. Peter Bristow made his return to the Northend line-up for the final twenty minutes after a four year sabbatical to play rugby and made a good impression. With little between the two sides it was always going to be a nail-biting end to the game and with five minutes remaining Tyrone Mitchell split the Lurgan defence with a pass to Owen Campbell, the young striker burst through on goal and saw his effort brilliantly saved by the Lurgan keeper. The Blues applied increasing pressure in the final stages but just couldn't find that one clear chance to take something from the game. Full-time 1-0
Man of the match: Sam McDowell - With a blustering wind making this a really difficult day for any goalkeeper, Sam demonstrated some great handling and displayed confidence throughout.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, D McLaughlin, J Adams, D Magill, P O'Boyle, T Mitchell C McKenna, O Campbell, K Barr, L Hector, C McCann, R Wallace and P Bristow
Tullyvallen Rangers 1 Northend United 3 Saturday 25th january 2020
The blues were playing for a place in the quarter finals of the Mid Ulster League Cup this week and although the boys struggled to find any real rhythm in the first half they could easily have been two up in the opening five minutes after Kai Barr had created chances fell for Owen Campbell and Tyrone Mitchell. Tullyvallen started to get a better grip on the game and Sam McDowell made a smart save to push a shot onto the cross bar after ten minutes. From the resulting corner Tullyvallen took the lead when the initial cross was cleared to the edge of the box, only to find an opposing midfielder who smashed a half-volley into the roof of the goal. Northend still struggled to find their passing game although they did create a good chance for Paul O'Boyle on twenty minutes with Paul's effort going wide of the upright. Northend's defence were solid throughout and had to weather a ten minute spell towards the end of the half when Tullyvallen dominated possession in midfield. Half-time 1-0
The blues had a very strong penalty call after five minutes of the re-start when Connor McKenna was pushed to the ground as he was about to strike on goal. With Sam Crawford, Jack Adams, David Magill and Dylan McLaughlin again standing strong in defence, the Ballymena side started to gain a better grip on the game. Owen Campbell had an effort cleared off the line at the mid-point of the half and as the game entered its final stages the blues pushed further men forward in search of an equaliser. Conn McCann and Rory Wallace brought fresh legs to midfield, with both players making a good contribution in the closing stages of the game. Ethan McCormac made his debut for the club, and what a debut it was, as he fired home a loose ball in the Tullyvallen box to push the game into extra-time. Full-time 1-1
Extra time: The Ballymena were now playing some good football and made a decisive break through in the third minute of the first period when Lewis Hector split the Tullyvallen defence with a pass for Tyrone Mitchell, the young midfielder coolly rounded the keeper and edged the blues in-front. Northend's defence were again winning every tackle and limited Tullyvallen to a single long-range effort in the remainder of the game. The blues put the game beyond doubt in the second minute of second period of extra time when a good passing move saw Owen Campbell outpace his marker to drill home a low effort for the winner and in doing so booked the blues their slot in the quarter finals. AET 1-3
Men of the Match: Team Performance.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, D McLaughlin, J Adams, D Magill, P O'Boyle, T Mitchell C McKenna, O Campbell, K Barr, L Hector, C McCann, R Wallace and E McCormac
Dungannon Youth 3 Northend United 1 Saturday 4th January 2020
The blues were playing the league leaders in their first fixture of 2020 and a goal in the final minute of the game put a flattering spin on this highly commendable result against the Irish League Academy side. The Ballymena boys enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half and almost took the lead in the opening minutes when Owen Campbell laid the ball off to Kai Barr on the edge of the area and the young striker curled his effort narrowly wide of the upright. In a match of very few chances the Northend defence of McDowell, Crawford, Adams, Magill and McLaughlin were in top form and comfortably dealt with what had been free-scoring Dungannon attack in the league games prior to this fixture. Sam McDowell produced a good save from a long-range effort at the mid-point of the half however with ten minutes remaining, Northend gained a real stranglehold on the game; Dylan McLaughlin went close from twenty yards and Lewis Hector shaved the outside of the post with a well struck shot. The blues eventually edged themselves in-front just before half-time when an excellent piece of play along the right wing which saw Lewis Hector's shot being saved and Connor McKenna being the quickest the react to the loose ball before showing some exquisite skill to drill a low first-time effort into the open goal. Half-time 0-1
Dungannon pulled themselves back into the game with a headed effort in the second minute of the half and once again the two sides went toe-to-toe contesting every loose ball. Tyrone Mitchell was starting to find his range of passing and the blues continued to press the Dungannon defence for the elusive opening. The key point of the game came on thirteen minutes when Dylan McLaughlin and Paul O'Boyle combined to create an opening for Kai Barr, the young striker's effort went agonisingly over the cross bar and from the next phase of play it was Dungannon who took the lead from a set-piece. The game was finely-balanced and Rory Wallace worked hard in midfield to press Dungannon for possession. The Ballymena boys again had a strong grip on the game and as they pressed for an equaliser, it was Dungannon who scored with the final kick of the game to put a flattering look on the score-line. Full-time 3-1
A very good performance today against a quality side who are deservedly sitting at the top of the league; and a special mention to Dungannon for some sporting play when a Northend player became ill during the game. A credit to their club.
Men of the Match: Jack Adams and David Magill were outstanding in the centre of defence.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, D McLaughlin, J Adams, D Magill, P O'Boyle, T Mitchell C McKenna, O Campbell, K Barr, L Hector, and R Wallace