Northend United 5 Craigavon City 0 Saturday 6th April 2019
The 2002s this week faced a Craigavon side they had already faced and beaten twice this season. On a beautiful warm and sunny morning, the mood of the coaches and spectators was matched by the players with some slick and inventive attacking and passing moves from Northend. The blues seized control from the first whistle with Conor McDonald, Jude Currie and Matthew Stewart all passing and moving the ball well. About 5 minutes in, Conor McDonald played a quick 1-2 with Ryan Mark and chipped a beautiful ball over the top for Jason Givens, who saw his shot saved by the onrushing keeper. Eventually the breakthrough did come as Givens' run down the right was pulled back to Joseph Dallas, and his pass was brilliantly brought down by Matthew Stewart who swivelled and turned quickly to produce a brilliant finish.
The second came soon after as McDonald again pulled some strings and set Jude Currie free, and he passed the ball across goal to put it on a plate for Jason Givens who tucked home. The half ended with no more goals but there were more chances for Stewart and Currie who failed to convert. Half time 2-0
The second half followed a similar vein, with the Ballymena boys visibly enjoying their football. A corner led to the third, as Dylan Young reacted won the ball and his shot was blocked, only for Joseph Dallas to poke in. Givens was never far from the action either, and having drifted over to the left, received a lovely ball from Jude Currie and slotted past the keeper for his second. Niall Esler and Scott Foster both made positive impacts from the bench, and Esler should have had a goal to show for his efforts but was off balance as he blasted over a good chance.
Foster made some strong runs down the right-hand side and started a move which led to Conor McDonald feeding Givens again, only for his touch to take him away from goal and the chance come to nothing. At the other end, credit must go to Dylan Young and Callum Forsythe who kept their concentration throughout and dealt with every threat, giving Jude Scullion a quiet game in goal.
The lads wanted more and eventually it came, Niall Esler showed strength and determination to get a shot off which was saved, but he fought for the ball and then squared to Givens who tapped in for his hat trick. Whilst all 3 goals were not particularly spectacular finishes, a lot of credit must go to Jason for his off the ball movement and ability to be in the right place at the right time, as this is his third hat trick of the season. Final score 5-0
A superb team performance showcasing the talent and team ethic of the group.
Panel: J Scullion, R Boomer, C Forsythe, D Young, C Meeke, J Dallas, R Mark, C McDonald, J Givens, J Currie, M Stewart, N Esler, S Foster
Ballymoney United 2 Northend United 1 Saturday 23rd March 2019
This week the U17s were back in cup action looking to make amends after defeat last time out against Banbridge. This week they headed to the Joey Dunlop Centre to take on rivals Ballymoney. Northend started the game better when Conor McDonald slipped Matthew Stewart through within the first minute however the striker failed to really test the goalkeeper with his left foot. The first half was quite a cagey affair with no real clear-cut chances created as Northend restricted Ballymoney to long range efforts thanks to some great defending from centre backs Joseph Dallas and Dylan Young who were great all game. Half time 0-0
The second half continued in the same vain however the game began to open up with 20 mins left as both teams began to tire. Niall Esler had the beating of his man on a number of occasions and delivered a couple of dangerous crosses into the box however no-one was able to get on the end of them. Ballymoney rarely threatened the Northend goal however with around 10 minutes to go they found themselves 1 on 1 versus Northend goalkeeper Jude Scullion who made a trademark save with his feet. The game looked destined to end 0-0 until Ballymoney scored with a shot from the edge of the box which slipped under the Northend goalkeeper and in off the post. In a game that Northend never looked like losing they found themselves 1-0 down however responded almost immediately when they were awarded a penalty after a tangle in the box. The penalty was smashed home emphatically by striker Matthew Stewart, 1-1. With only a minute left on the clock Ballymoney hit a long ball forward which resulted in Northend defender Dylan Young taking a knock to the head in the process however the referee decided to play on and the ball fell straight at the feet of the Ballymoney striker who scored. Final result Ballymoney 2-1 Northend. Northend will be disappointed to lose the game having controlled large parts of it and will now look to progress through the best runners up spot. The effort of all 11 players has to be praised on a particularly warm morning with no subs. Full time 2-1
Panel: J Scullion, C Forsythe, R Boomer, J Dallas, D Young, R Mark, C McDonald, J Currie, N Esler, S Foster, M Stewart
..............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................Northend United 1 Banbridge Town 3 Saturday 16th March 2019
Northend this week faces Banbridge in the Mid Ulster knockout cup semi-final. The Northend lads started brightly stringing some nice passes together and moving the ball well. Banbridge clearly had a tactic to use the windy conditions and test Northend with long balls. An early long ball wasn't dealt with properly and a harsh penalty was awarded when a Northend defender miskicked a clearance into his arm. The Banbridge captain stepped up to finish well.
Northend tried to hit back, first Matthew Stewart setting up a good chance for Jude Currie who fired over, and then Conor McDonald firing a near perfect free kick into the corner of post and bar.
However, again a long ball was poorly dealt with and on the back foot Northend conceded a free kick which was scored to make it 2-0.
In the second half, Northend pushed for a route back into the game and chances for Niall Esler were well saved. The waves of attack couldn't get through the last line of defence and on the counter Banbridge picked up a third.
Northend has penalty appeals of their own turned down and soon after Banbridge found themselves reduced to 10 men. Ryan Mark burst through and had an attempt saved before Matthew Stewart bundled in the goal, but there was not enough time to get back into the game. Full time 1-3
Panel: J Scullion, C Meeke, C Forsythe, D Young, J Dallas, R Mark, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, J Agnew, R Boomer, S Foster
Midway United 0 Northend United 1 Saturday 2nd March 2019
Northend started their League Cup campaign against Midway United this week. Weather and pitch conditions made the game very scrappy and neither team throughout the game managed to seize control. The ball in behind the defence seemed the order of the day and mistakes were easy to make due to the wind and rain.
Midway had the first chance when a loose ball found an attacker and a firm drive was well turned away by Jude Scullion. Northend attempted to keep the ball down but struggled to keep any momentum. However, they struck first when Niall Esler slotted a pass in behind the defence and Matthew Stewart drilled home a difficult chance. Half time 1-0
The second half followed a similar vein with both teams having half chances but nothing more. Conor McDonald had a great long shot of narrowly wide and at the other end Scullion made some routine saves. There were no further goals and Northend held out to win.
This certainly was far from Northend's most fluent performance, but they showed grit and determination to keep a clean sheet, whilst finishing the 1 clear cut chance they had. Full time 0-1
Panel: J Scullion, R Boomer, C Meeke, C Forsythe, D Young, J Dallas, R Mark, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, J Givens, J Agnew