Craigavon City 1 Northend United 3 Saturday 23rd February 2019
The Mid Ulster Cup quarter final pitted Northend against Craigavon. The Ballymena lads certainly started the game the best, and early chances came, first from Matthew Stewart who stayed in his feet after a clip when wounding the goalkeeper, and his shot was cleared. Soon after, the same player had a header from a corner saved, and Joseph Dallas had his rebound blocked on the line before Callum Forsythe hit the post. Very unlucky for Northend not to have a lead.
Northend's left hand side of Connor Meeke, Jude Currie and Conor McDonald found a lot of joy and after some neat build up on one occasion, Jude's ball into the box fell to Ryan Mark and he swivelled and finished into the bottom corner to take the lead.
Northend sort of took their foot off the gas and Craigavon found a way back into the game, with a right wing cross getting fired into the top corner. At half time, the scores were level at 1-1
In the second half however, Northend seized control of the game and passed the ball beautifully to have a lot of pressure around the Craigavon goal. Conor McDonald, as so often this season, played a perfectly weighted pass for Jude Currie and he lofted the ball over the onrushing keeper with a brilliant finish and to restore Northend's lead. Whilst Northend has the lead, and all the possession, there was still an air of nervousness about as they knew 1 chance would get Craigavon back into the game.
The dominance soon told as a Craigavon player stopped a counter attack where Ryan Mark had beaten him well and was shown a second yellow card. 10 men Craigavon then struggled to keep the ball, and Niall Esler races into a through ball and forced a good save. Minutes from the end, Matthew Stewart confirmed the win with a reaction finish to make it 3-1. Full time 3-1
Panel: J Givens, R Boomer, C Meeke, C Forsythe, D Young, J Dallas, R Mark, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, S Foster
TTBS 4 Northend United 4 Saturday 9th February 2019
This week Northend took on a strong TTBS side. Having drawn twice already this season the coaches knew it would be a tight match. Before the kick off Northend were initially up against it with only 11 players available for the match and only one of these players a natural defender.
That being said, Northend started the game on fire, with an early attack allowing Matthew Stewart to lay off Ryan Mark and he finished crisply into the bottom corner. The lead didn't last long though as TTBS scored from a corner soon after.
Again, Northend took the lead, as Conor McDonald, who was super on the day, played a ball over the top of defence for Jude Currie and he finished confidently. Almost immediately, again Northend conceded, with a TTBS through ball allowing their winger to tap home. At half time, Northend were probably unlucky to be tied. 2-2.
In the second half, again Northend found the net first. Jude Currie turned provider as the swirling wind made a corner very hard to defend me Jack Agnew attacked it brilliantly to head home.Again, TTBS fought back as a wicked cross hit a Northend player and ended up in the net, and then minutes later took the lead for the first time when their striker converted a chance confidently.
The game wasn't to end there, and Northend fought back themselves, with Conor McDonald launching a wicked half volley off the corner of the bar and Matthew Stewart showing strikers instinct to follow up and finish an awkward chance. A super game for both teams and credit to the makeshift back 4 for a decent performance in a tough game. Full time 4-4
Panel: J Scullion, S Foster, D Young, J Dallas, J Givens, R Mark, J Agnew, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart
Annagh United 2 Northend United 6 Saturday 26th January 2019
This week the U17's took on Annagh in the league, a game that Northend previously won 5-0 in the reverse fixture. The game started slowly, and the early stages were interrupted by a serious injury to vice-captain and centre back Luke Rea. After a lengthy stoppage the game continued in the same manner with neither side really creating any clear -chances. With about 10 minutes to go in the first half centre mid Conor McDonald did well to work some space on the edge of the box before firing a thunderous strike past the Annagh keeper and into the top corner. The ball was past him before he even had time to react. 1-0 Northend. Not long after Niall Esler made it 2-0 as the ball bounced up for him just inside the box and he struck it left footed across the keeper into the far side of the net. Great finish with his 'weak foot'. Half time 0-2
As the second half started Northend knew that the next goal in the game was crucial and it came not long after. The Annagh keeper struggled to deal with a high cross from Matthew Stewart which dropped kindly for Niall Esler who tapped home from a couple of yards for his second of the game and Northend's third. Northend continued to lift the intensity and went 4-0 up as Niall shrugged off a couple of defenders and played Jason Givens through on goal who coolly slotted it past the keeper into the bottom corner. 4 then became 5 as Jason tapped home with his head after Dylan Young flicked on from a corner and the winger completed his hat trick not long after when he volleyed home a looping cross from Matthew Stewart after a great driving run from makeshift right back Scott Foster. Northend could have had more as Jack Agnew went close from range and Matthew Stewart shot narrowly over after being put through. Annagh did manage to score a couple of consolation goals, Full time 2-6
As mentioned previously the result was marred by the serious injury to key player Luke Rea and we would like to wish him all the best with his recovery and everyone in the team hopes to see him back playing soon.
Panel: J Scullion, C Meeke, C Forsythe, L Rea, D Young, R Mark, J Agnew, C McDonald, N Esler, J Givens, M Stewart, R Boomer, S Foster
Downshire YM 0 Northend United 1 Saturday 19th January 2019
his weekend the U17s took on a Downshire side, who although they had beaten previously this season, they were behind in the league. Northend certainly my looked the better team in the early stages. Jude Currie was the best of the Northend attackers and both Conor McDonald and Jack Agnew played some key passes in the midfield.
The set piece looked Northend's beat weapon on the day, and they had a Conor McDonald corner shot from a corner cleared off the line. A few minutes later, Luke Rea's header looked destined for the corner, but again was cleared off the line. Jude Scullion showed safe hands at the other end as he kept out a couple of shots from the edge of the box. A Northend freekick routine did result in the ball finding the net, but Luke Rea was penalised for offside in the build-up. Half time 0-0
The second half saw Downshire improve in confidence and quality. They started to look a threat from set pieces also and a few key touches in the Northend defence kept the scores level. At the other end, a fantastic Luke Rea volley was again called offside.
The game started to open up as Northend were desperate for a winner, and the Downshire keeper pulled off two wonderful saves, first from a drive from Matthew Stewart and then minutes later quickly closing down Niall Esler's shot as McDonald had released him. Northend did look open on the counter, and at one stage a cruel bounce led to Scullion palming the ball to an attacker, only for Jason Givens to have chased the full length of the pitch to stop what looked to be a certain goal.
As the last minutes arrived, it looked as though Northend were going to have to settle for a draw, when they deserved more. However, in the closing moments, Northend's last throw of the dice from a corner led to Conor McDonald nodding in and sparking jubilation on the pitch. A superb way to end a game that the blues deserved to win. Full time 0-1
The coaches want to mention Joseph Dallas for an excellent display filling in at centre back, a position he is not most comfortable in. Conor McDonald was chosen as the referee's man of the match, and again it should be mentioned he has been fantastic for the last 4 games for the team.
Panel: J Scullion, C Meeke, C Forsythe, L Rea, J Dallas, R Mark, J Agnew, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, R Boomer, J Givens
TTBS 0 Northend United 1 Saturday 12th January 2019
This week the 2002s faced a very good TTBS side who are 2nd in the league. In the previous game this season, there was a tightly fought 0-0 stalemate, and this game was not far different.
The first half had very few chances but Northend were certainly the better team, and we're winning the midfield battle. Chances were hard to come by and a slice of luck led to the Blues taking the lead. A well worked move created space for Connor Meeke to cross, but his cross beat everyone and sailed into the net at the far post. TTBS responded with sole possession but could only challenge from a few long shots which Jude Scullion dealt with easily. Half time 0-1
In the second half, the pattern changed slightly as TTBS came the better side, but still struggled to create anything significant. However, with about 10 minutes left, the referee gave a free kick on the edge of the Northend box, although the tackle looked extremely clean from the coaches' perspective. Fair play to TTBS however, as their set piece specialist launched the ball brilliantly into the top corner to equalise. Both teams pressed for a winner, but the match ended 1-1.
Panel: J Scullion, R Boomer, C Meeke, L Rea, D Young, J Dallas, R Mark, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, S Foster, C Forsythe, J Agnew
Northend United 6 Craigavon City 0 Saturday 5th January 2019
For the U17s, the end of the winter break meant a return to action against Craigavon City, a side whom Northend has never faced before.
The first half of the match seemed to suffer from a Christmas hangover though, as both sides really lacked the quality to have any impact in the final third. Credit to Craigavon, who passed the ball around very nicely but Northend's last line of defence stayed strong. At the other end, with Northend's passing sloppy and wasteful, a few longer balls caused some problems and only some very good last-ditch tackles or interceptions stopped Northend from getting through on goal. Jude Currie provides the brightest moment of the half, collecting a pass from Matthew Stewart and then crossing back to the same player at the back post. However, the ball was just ahead of Stewart and he sliced his volley wide. Half time 0-0
The second half could not have been more different for Northend. Their passing and pressing clicked and they began to cause some real problems for Craigavon.
Firstly, Niall Esler was unlucky not to get a penalty when as he was through on goal got his legs tangled with a Craigavon defender.
The breakthrough actually came from a Craigavon corner. After the corner was cleared, Matthew Stewart picked up the ball in his own half and launched a lightning quick counter attack, passing left to Jude Currie. Currie raced from the halfway line, beyond the defence and passed the ball in at the near post. Minutes later, it could have been 2-0, as again Currie got joy on the left and his deflected cross was headed goalward by Conor McDonald, only unlucky to hit the goalkeeper on the back and go wide. From the resulting corner however, Currie put it on a plate for Luke Rea who headed in for his third goal of the season.
Now, Northend has the confidence to dominate possession and passed the ball around beautifully. Niall Esler was the recipient of a a chipped through ball and his pinpoint lob left the keeper stranded, making it 3-0. A lovely finish from the lad. Conor McDonald came very close to a goal when the keeper was forced into a great save from a left footed effort, and the rebound was blocked on the line.
The score line kept improving for Northend, and substitute Scott Foster came on and made a positive impact, setting up Ryan Mark well in the box, and Mark danced past 2 tackles before finishing confidently. Foster then created goal 5 as well, with a low cross from the right expertly dispatched by Matthew Stewart into the top corner. Lastly, Ryan Mark grabbed the sixth, and his second, with the last kick of the game, receiving a pass from McDonald and slotting home.
A brilliant second half performance from Northend and a proper team performance. It would be easy to give the credit to the attackers for 6 goals, but the coaches want to point out the brilliance of the Northend defence today. The centre back partnership between Dylan Young and Luke Rea missed absolutely nothing, and both full backs, Connor Meeke and Ryan Boomer had great games. Also, their midfield protector, Joseph Dallas was again excellent, in both winning possession and keeping it. Credit must go to the whole squad of 12 for a great performance
Panel: J Scullion, R Boomer, C Meeke, D Robinson, L Rea, J Dallas, R Mark, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, S Foster