Northend United 5 Annagh United 0 Saturday 8th December 2018
This week Northend needed to bounce back from a few poor results and faced an Annagh United side who were ahead in the league and on good form. Northend however, with 3 players returning from absence the previous week, started the match brilliantly. From the off, the football just seemed to click. Captain Conor McDonald was instrumental in everything good for Northend in the early stages and the general pressing and passing of the team was brilliant, much to the coach's delight.
The early goal came to Northend in great fashion, as a slick passing move created space for Callum Forsythe on the right, and his pinpoint cross left the defence and keeper stranded, and Ryan Mark arrived late from midfield to volley in. The onslaught of quick passing football continued, and Jude Currie was very unlucky as the ball bobbled just as he went to hit it after a slick series of 1 touch passing between the attackers, and whilst he regained control his eventual cross was cleared.
For all their passing football, Conor McDonald came up with a superb individual goal to extend the lead. His quick feet and dummies took him past 2 players and then a pinpoint left footed shot went across the keeper and in off the post.
With the pressure building, a Jude Currie corner caused some havoc and Niall Esler was on hand to smash home, making it 3 goals in his last 3 games. At half time the scoreline could have been anything for Northend, but ended 3-0
In the second half, credit to Annagh United who started to get some joy in attack. Whilst they had more possession, not too much troubled blues keeper Jude Scullion, apart from one brilliant long-range strike that was unlucky only to hit the bar. However, Niall Esler stepped up to drag Northend back into control. A surging run on the right wing beat 2 players and a brilliant low cross was touched in by Matthew Stewart with a difficult finish which he controlled well.
Minutes later, a carbon control run from Esler again beat defenders, and this time a whipped cross was headed in by Ryan Mark, again making a super run from midfield.
The match ended 5-0, and whilst Esler, McDonald and Mark had super games, some mention should definitely go to the Northend defence, who apart from 5 minutes in the second half, were in complete control and credit must go to Luke Rea who marshalled then excellently.
Probably the team performance of the season from Northend, and if they can find consistency with performances like this, will for sure shoot up the league positions.
Panel: J Scullion, C Forsythe, C Meeke, L Rea, D Young, C McDonald, R Mark, J Dallas, J Currie, N Esler, M Stewart, S Foster
Banbridge Town 5 Northend United 1 Saturday 1st December 2018
This week a depleted Northend team took on Banbridge town. With 7 players unavailable for selection, the skeleton squad found themselves down to an early goal after a long ball caused problems.
Northend did get some chances on the counter, with Dylan Young and Conor McDonald forcing saves. Sadly, Banbridge continued to punish the Northend backline, and after some quick-fire goals they were 4-0 up. Just before half time Dylan Young restored a faint glimmer of hope with a great strike low in the corner. Half time 4-1
In the second half, the Northend lads restored some pride in their performance and were unlucky not to add to their tally.
Jude Scullion must take credit for some great saves over the full game including saving a penalty but was very unlucky as a super save tipped a shot onto the bar and bounced over the line. This was a much better second half performance from the Northend lads. Final score 5-1
Panel: J Scullion, C Forsythe, R Shirley, L Rea, C Meeke, D Young, C McDonald, J Currie, S Foster, Z Clarke, M Stewart
Northend United 2 Dungannon Swifts 4 Saturday 24th November 2018
This week Northend were pitted against Dungannon Swifts for the first time. The match took the worst possible start as a defensive lapse led to a Swifts striker being able to finish past Jude Scullion.
Northend actually managed to seize control of possession and played some of their best football of the season, with crisp passing, inventive touches and a great tempo. Jude Currie had the first chance to equalise when he skinned his full back and curled an effort just over the top. Niall Esler was fantastic in attack and managed to win a penalty on the stroke of half time. Matthew Stewart stepped up and missed his first penalty for a long time as the keeper made a great save low in the corner. The pain was doubled as Dungannon broke straight from the keeper and scored at the other end to make it 0-2 at half time.
The response after the break was phenomenal. Northend's energy and tempo was some of the best the coaches had seen in a long time. The passing continually split the Dungannon lines and Niall Esler was unlucky when a brilliant volley from the edge of the box struck the face of the post.
Minutes later, more Esler skill was shown as he beat a man on the right and his low cross was squeezed in at the near post by Ryan Mark.
Esler couldn't stay out of the game, as a Matthew Stewart flick on managed to find Esler in the box, and he held off a marker and fired home to equalise. The Northend lads were well up for this but as energy levels and tenacity went through the roof, composure was hard to come by, and they found themselves trying to force the game.
An unlucky break came when a Dungannon shot from the edge of the box hit the bar, and the rebound fell perfectly for a player to tap in. Cruelly, a soft free kick was then converted by Dungannon and the game finished 4-2. Northend can count themselves very unlucky as everything seemed to go against them on a day where their performance levels were brilliant. Whilst hard to single out players, the midfield 3 must take credit for their use of the ball, the fullbacks were excellent, but Niall Esler truly was the stand out player for the Ballymena boys and showed potentially his best ever performance in a Northend shirt
Panel: J Scullion, C Meeke, C Forsythe, D Robinson, J Dallas, R Mark, J Agnew, C McDonald, N Esler, J Currie, M Stewart, Z Clarke, R Boomer
Northend United 0 Carnmoney Colts 2 NIBFA Cup Saturday 17th November 2018
In Round 2 of the NIBFA cup Northend took on a Carnmoney Colts team from the South Belfast league.
Having never met before, the team did not know what to expect but Carnmoney brought a high energy and physical game style which failed to allow the Northend lads to settle on the ball at all.
Carnmoney took an early lead as a free kick was only half cleared and a Carnmoney midfielder placed the return into the far corner.
Northend started to put some pressure on but failed to make a clear cut chance. A series of attacks led to crosses and eventually Conor McDonald has a Northend effort cleared off the line. Half time 0-1
The second half had a similar flow with Northend's passing being disrupted but defensively holding firm.
Some skill from Jack Agnew tempted a Carnmoney player into a tackle and the foul led to a second booking for the player and giving the Northend lads a man advantage.
The resulting free kick hit the bar from Dylan Young and Northend pressure also led to Jack Agnew forcing an excellent save. Instead, the pressure led to no goal and Carnmoney broke on the counter and scored a late second. Full time 0-2
Panel: J Scullion, C Meeke. C Forsythe, L Rea, D Young, J Dallas, R Mark, C McDonald, N Esler, M Stewart, J Currie, J Agnew, Z Clarke, R Boomer
Northend United 6 Portadown Youth 0 Saturday 3rd Nov 2018
After two weeks on the bounce, a Northend team in good form took on Portadown Youth in the league. The game started slowly and Northend failed to dominate the tempo to what the coaches desired. Some chances did come however as Niall Esler twice missed good opportunities and Jack Agnew fired over from the edge of the box.
The breakthrough did come in scrappy fashion as Portadown failed to clear a corner and Luke Rea got the final touch to give Northend the league. The second came relatively soon after as Jude Currie got free down the left and after cutting back into his right foot, had a shot saved by the keeper, but the ball ricocheted off a Portadown defender and into the bottom corner.
Northend continued to dominate in attack but the play was still quite slow and lethargic and the coaches were demanding more from the players. A third goal came when Jude Currie finished low and hard from the edge of the box, and Niall Esler grabbed a fourth for the blues as he found himself 1 on 1 with the keeper.
The half ended in good fashion as Ryan Mark grabbed another goal with a tidy finish. Half Time 5-0
The second half brought better football from Northend, but the finishing still lacked composure. Multiple corners were headed over as Jason Givens and Dylan Young both went close with chances.
The last goal did come though as Jack Agnew grabbed his first of the season from a Givens pass and turned neatly in the box to finish. A decent performance from Northend where they never really hit full stride but still won comfortably. Full Time 6-0
Panel: J Scullion, C Forsythe, C Meeke, L Rea, D Young, J Dallas, R Mark, J Agnew, M Stewart, N Esler, J Currie, J Givens, Z Clarke, R Boomer, C McDonald