Northend United 4 Ards Academy 1 Saturday 14th December 2019
The blues were playing their second-round fixture of the NIBFA Cup this week and looked determined to book their place in the last sixteen of this prestigious competition. The Ballymena boys were playing into a very strong breeze but got off to the perfect start when Paul O'Boyle set Owen Campbell free along the left wing and the young striker outpaced his marker before cutting an inch perfect pass back from the bye-line into the path of the unmarked Kai Barr to give the blues the lead. Paul O'Boyle smashed good effort into the side netting after five minutes and when Lewis Hector hit the cross bar at the mid-point of the half it only looked a matter of time before the blues would edge themselves further in-front. Ards rallied in the final fifteen minutes of the half and tried to use the strong wind to their advantage, the Northend defence of Crawford, Magill Adams and McLaughlin were in outstanding form and handled everything that came their way. Sam McDowell had another fine game in goal and his excellent handling relieved the pressure too as Ards adopted a long ball game. Northend were still looking dangerous on the counter attack and the second goal came when Tyrone Mitchell's pass split the Ards defence and Lewis Hector bravely slid in between the keeper and last defender on the edge of the area to direct the ball into the open goal. Half time 2-0
With the strong wind at their backs the blues looked to seal the game with a decisive third goal. A succession of corners piled pressure onto the Ards defence and it was totally against the run of play that Ards pulled themselves back into the game after seventeen minutes. Northend responded with a goal almost immediately following the restart. Connor McKenna's ball into the area broke to the unmarked Lewis Hector and the young midfielder smashed his effort into the net from ten yards. Northend were playing some excellent football and Davy McKay bolstered the defence following an injury to Sam Crawford. Conn McCann and Rory Wallace brought some fresh legs to the attack and with five minutes remaining the Ards keeper failed to hold onto a driven free kick from Connor McKenna; with McCann, Wallace, Campbell and Hector all sprinting in on goal, it was Campbell who fired the ball into the roof of the net to cap a strong display from the blues. Full-time 4-1
A great end to 2019 for the boys. They have already quailed for the premiership section of the Mid-Ulster league in the second half of the season and can now look forward to the draw for the last sixteen of the NIBFA Cup.
Men of the match: Owen Campbell and Paul O'Boyle both epitomised the fighting spirit of the team today with a selfless display, working hard when out of possession and standing firm against some niggling play in the latter stages of the game.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, D McLaughlin, J Adams, D Magill, P O'Boyle, T Mitchell, C McKenna, O Campbell, K Barr, L Hector, D McKay, C McCann, R Wallace
Craigavon City 1 Northend United 6 Saturday 7th December 2019
Northend got off to a terrible start in this game by conceding a goal in the opening minute however this was the shot in the arm the boys required as they went on to dominate the remainder of the match. The equaliser came after five minutes when Jack Adams carried the ball out from the back and found Connor McKenna in space on the edge of the Craigavon penalty area, the midfielder split the defence with a pass to Owen Campbell and the young striker rounded the keeper before calmly rolling the ball into the empty net. The blues were piling pressure onto the Craigavon defence and the second goal arrived via a thirty-yard thunderbolt from Tyrone Mitchell. Northend extended their lead moments later when Tyrone Mitchell scored his second of the game from the edge of the area with a strike into the far corner. The Ballymena boys were playing some good passing football across the pitch and Sam McDowell made short work of a couple of long-range efforts as the half drew to a close. Half time 1-3
Northend were again onto the front foot from the beginning of the half and the defence of Sam Crawford, Dylan McLaughlin, David Magill and Jack Adams were in control of the game. Lewis Hector and Paul O'Boyle both went close to scoring and with Kai Barr enjoying a lot of time on the ball in the attacking third it was only a matter of time before the blues put the game beyond doubt. That goal came on fifteen minutes when Tyrone Mitchell completed his hat-trick with a smart finish from twelve yards. The Ballymena boys were now storming forward and when Davy McKay's cross found Connor McKenna in the penalty are the Craigavon defence could only bundle the midfielder to the ground, up stepped Tyrone Mitchell to grab his fourth of the game from the spot, New signing Rory Wallace made his debut with twenty minutes remaining and had a good effort saved by the keeper. Northend rounded the game off with ten minutes to go when Conn McCann controlled the ball under pressure in the box and curled a delightful shot into the top right-hand corner to seal an impressive victory for the blues. Final-score 1-6
A good victory ahead of next week NIBFA Cup 2nd round tie against Ards Academy with a place in the last 16 up for grabs.
Man of the Match: Tyrone Mitchell
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, D McLaughlin, J Adams, D Magill, P O'Boyle, T Mitchell C McKenna, O Campbell, K Barr, L Hector, D McKay, C McCann and R Wallace
Banbridge Town 3 Northend United 0 Saturday 23rd November 2019
Northend's push for the league title was dealt a blow this week with an unexpected loss against mid-table Banbridge Town. The blues started the game slowly and never really got into gear until Banbridge had edged themselves in front at the mid-point of the half. This set back did jolt the young Ballymena side into life and they enjoyed a ten-minute spell in which they had a headed effort form Owen Campbell cleared off the line, Kai Barr then forced a good save from the keeper and Owen Campbell shot wide of goal when well placed. Half-time 0-1
The blues started the second half with a lot more determination and almost drew themselves level on four minutes when Lewis Hector shot narrowly wide of goal. Owen Campbell had a strong call for a penalty after being upended in the box, however play was waved on. As the game progressed the Ballymena side pushed forward in numbers but could not find the decisive pass to break down the Banbridge defence. In the final stages Northend went for broke in the hope of salvaging something from the game and conceded two further goals against the run of play. Full-time 0-3
The boys need to get their heads back up after this set back and continue build upon what has been a great start to the season. There's still everything to play for in the weeks ahead and a run of good results will definitely put them back into the title race.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, D McLaughlin, J Adams, D Magill, P O'Boyle, C McKenna, O Campbell, K Barr, L Hector, C McCann
Northend United 2 Markethill Swifts 0 Saturday 16th November 2019
Compared to other recent fixtures, the 2004s started the game slowly but were nonetheless in total control from the very early stages. The blues went close to taking the lead after fifteen minutes when Owen Campbell cut out a short back pass and squared the ball to Kai Barr and the young strikers shot glanced off a defender and wide of goal. The Ballymena boys were slowly turning the screw and a series of corners went close without producing the opening the blues deserved. Strong running by Conn McCann and Lewis Hector again opened the Market Hill defence but both boys were unable to beat the keeper. As the half progressed the central midfield duo of Conor McKenna and Paul O'Boyle we're now winning every challenge and moving the ball with greater pace. Half-time 0-0.
With a good team talk at half time and a change of line up, Northend started to pile on the pressure and the inevitable breakthrough came after eight minutes when a well taken Lewis Hector corner found the head of Conor McKenna to make it 1-0. With countless clearances from the Markethill defence, the Northend back four of David Magill, Jack Adams, Sam Crawford and Dylan McLaughlin had plenty of time to work the ball out from the back; and Dylan almost added to the score sheet with thirty yard shot that produced a fine save from the Markethill keeper. Kai Barr delivered a series of dangerous cross from the wing, one of which was unselfishly cut-back by Owen Campbell into the path of Tyrone Mitchell, who calmly turned the defender to make it two nil on the twenty fifth minute. With the game nearly over Northend kept it tight at the back and secured the win taking the boys to a top four spot in the league. Full time 2-0
Man of the match - Team performance. Not as free flowing as recent weeks, but some days it's just about hard work, keeping your focus and raising your game when it's needed. All round the boys showed some great character.
Panel: S McDowell, S Crawford, D McLaughlin, J Adams, D Magill, C McKenna, P O'Boyle, K Barr, L Hector, C McCann, O Campbell and T Mitchell.