Aquinas Star 1 Northend United 1 5-4 Pens Cup Final Friday 22nd April 2022
Northend went into this final on the back of a bruising semi-final win over North Belfast side, 22nd Old Boys. Northend started on the front foot with Jack McIlhatton proving to be a handful for the Aquinas defence. Gradually though, Aquinas played their way into the game, gaining the upper hand in the midfield and using this as a base to launch a number of attacks on the Northend defence. However, the Blues defence of Owen McAuley, Conall O’Boyle, David Magill were superbly led by Joel Telford and they weathered whatever Aquinas could throw at them.
With Matty Las leading the Northend forward line, Northend were winning snippets of balls but finding it hard to make the ball stick until McIlhatton went on another of his penetrating runs, evading a number of Aquinas defenders before seeing the Aquinas keeper make a great save.
A tactical switch, seen Paul O’Boyle move into centre mid alongside Sam Millar and this proved the catalyst for a period of better play from Northend, just before half time. Half time 0-0
Into the second half and the introduction of Kai Barr and Tadhg McKinney on the Northend wings, with Ciaran Martin reverting back to his normal right back position, gave the Blues a better balance to the team.
It was Barr who proved the inspiration for Northend, when 10 minutes into the half, he laid a ball across the Aquinas penalty box, and captain Ciaran Martin was on hand to steer the ball past the Aquinas keeper to give Northend a 1-0 lead.
Northend kept the pressure on Aquinas and it was Jack McIlhatton, 17 minutes into the half, turned his marker almost on the half way line, and as he raced down on the Aquinas goal, was hauled down in the penalty box. Up stepped Matty Las to take the resultant penalty kick, but he blasted the ball over the bar, and Northend lost the all important goal that would have given them a two gaol cushion.
Northend introduced Alix Bell and David Stokowiecki as they looked to shore up their one goal lead, with both turning in good displays for the remainder of the game. With time running out and only two minutes remaining on the clock, Aquinas hoisted a free kick, high into the Northend box, where it wasn’t properly dealt with, and an Aquinas striker scored to bring them back into the game. Northend went on one last big push in the game, before the final whistle, and Kai Barr saw a shot saved by the Aquinas keeper, in the last kick of the game. Full time 1-1
It was straight to penalties in a night filled with drama and with Paul O’Boyle, Jack McIlhatton, Joel Telford and Kai Barr all converting their penalties, and the Northend keeper saving the first Aquinas penalty, it was all down to Matty Las with Northend’s fifth penalty to win the game for Northend, but unfortunately his shot went over the bar. So, into sudden death penalties and Northend missed their 6th penalty of the night to give Aquinas the cup.
Panel: J Baxter, C Martin, C O’Boyle, D Magill, J Telford, S Millar, P O’Boyle, T Mitchell, M Las, J McIlhatton, T McKinney, K Barr, A Bell, D Stokowiecki, A Campbell, O Campbell
22nd Old Boys 3 Northend United 4 Friday 7th April 2022
Northend got off to the worst possible start in this match and found themselves two goals down after only five minutes, with indecision all over the pitch. Jack McIlhatton brought the Blues a lifeline on fifteen minutes, when he turned his marker on the half-way line and ran on to plant the ball past the advancing Old Boys keeper, evading two defenders along the way.
Two minutes later and following a great through ball from Patrick Ferris, Paul O’Boyle found himself through with a one on one with the Old Boys keeper, but the keeper came out on top in this duel. Ferris who was settling into the Blues midfield saw a shot from the half-way line go narrowly over the Old Boys bar, when he saw their keeper off his line.
Northend’s calamitous defending was again exposed as the Old Boys scored a third goal on twenty-five minutes. Northend’s heads didn’t drop and from a Ferris run from midfield, the Old Boys keeper could only parry his shot and Kai Barr was following up to score from close range. With the half almost finished, Northend conceded a dubious penalty, when Millar was adjusted to have fouled his opponent, but the Blues keeper was equal to the kick and made a great save to keep Northend in the game, going into half time. Half time 3-2
Into the second half and with Tyrone Mitchell and Alix Bell introduced it was a different Northend who took the field. With Sam Millar driving them on from midfield, Northend looked a more complete unit. In defence, Ciaran Martin, Joel Telford and Conall O’Boyle, although giving away height advantage to their opponents, were now dealing with whatever the Old Boys could throw at them. Northend dominated the early exchanges in this half without really creating goalscoring opportunities. Just as it was looking like it wasn’t going to be Northend’s day, a deep cross from Mitchell on the left wing, found Matty Las in the Old Boys box and he turned his man and planted the ball into the top corner of the net. This goal lifted Northend and with ten minutes of the match remaining, the Blues were awarded a free-kick twenty-five yards out from the Old Boys goal. Up stepped Patrick Ferris to plant the ball in the top corner of the Old Boys net to give Northend the lead for the first time in this game.
Dawid Stokowiecki replaced McIlhatton as the Blues looked to defend their lead. With time almost up on the clock, Northend conceded a penalty which the Old Boys striker put wide of the Blues upright. Northend seen out the remaining minutes of the game to cement their place in the final. Full time 3-4
Panel: J Baxter, C Martin (c), C O’Boyle, J Telford, O McAuley, S Millar, P Ferris, K Barr, P O’Boyle, M Las, J McIlhatton, T Mitchell, A Bell, D Stokowiecki, A Pescaru
Northend United 3 Kilmore Rec 4 Saturday 2nd April 2022
Northend started brightly and should have taken and early lead through Matty Las. However, they found themselves two down against the run of play. The Blues kept plugging away and had a goal harshly disallowed before finally pulling one back just before half time through Matty Las. Half time 1-2
A rejuvenated Northend came out after half time but were stunned at the start of the second half to lose an early goal. They settled down to a better rhythm and played some lovely football. Northend eventually pulled two goals back through Jack McIlhatton but squandered a bagful of chances. Worse was to follow when they lost a late goal as they went in search of a winner. Full time 3-4
Panel: D Stokowiecki, C Martin (c), C O’Boyle, D Magill, O McAuley, C McKenna, K Barr, T McKinney, A Bell, M Las, J McIlhatton
Northend United 1 22nd Old Boys 1 Friday 25th March 2022
Played on Greenisland’s excellent new pitch on Friday night, Northend U18s opened the match in blistering form, with Jack McIlhatton tormenting the Old Boys defence. On no fewer than four occasions in the opening ten minutes, Northend should have scored with balls played across the face of the Old Boys defence and one on ones with the goalkeeper, coming to nothing.
With Sam Millar and Conor McKenna dominating the early exchanges in midfield, ably backed with Tyrone Mitchell and Kai Barr, Northend went looking for the opening goal. Matty Las duly obliged midway through the half, when his blistering shot from all of twenty-five yards, found the top corner of the Old Boys net. Play flowed from end to end for remainder of the half without either team adding to the score. Half time 1-0
Into the second half and with the Old Boys getting a stronger grip on the game, the Blues defence of Martin, O’Boyle and Telford were soaking up whatever was being thrown at them although Stokowiecki in nets was rarely troubled throughout the game.
The game changed midway through the half, when a Northend defender fouled his opponent in the Blues box and the Old Boys scored from the resultant kick.
With Alix Bell and Adam Campbell on for Northend, it gave fresh pairs of legs in the Blues midfield, as play continued to swing from end to end. With time running out, Ciaran Martin saw a good run from deep in his own half, end up with a thumping shot which went narrowly over the bar. No team were able to get the all important goal that would seal a win, in the final minutes of the match. Full time 1-1
Panel: D Stokowiecki, C Martin (c), C O’Boyle, J Telford, O McAuley, S Millar, C McKenna, K Barr, T Mitchell, M Las, J McIlhatton, A Campbell, A Bell
Northend United 3 Aquinas Star 0 Saturday 19th March 2022
Northend started this game on the front foot and Paul O’Boyle went close for the Blues in the opening minutes. It wasn’t long before Matty Las also went close for Northend in a whirlwind of a start, following some good work down the Northend right wing. However, Aquinas gradually wore into the game, but the Northend defence of Martin, Campbell and McIlhatton, defending into a strong breeze, dealt with whatever Aquinas could throw at them.
Midway through the half, Patrick Ferris was finding space inside the Aquinas half and from his pass into Conor McKenna, the Northend midfielder slipped the ball past the advancing Aquinas keeper to give the Blues a 1-0 lead. With Kai Barr and Matty Las stretching the Aquinas defence, the Blues seen out the remainder of the half with their one goal lead. Half time 1-0
Into the second half, with Andrei Pescaru on for Northend, they took the game to Aquinas with Ferris instrumental in driving Northend on from midfield. Indeed, the midfielder could have increased Northend’s lead after ten minutes of the half but saw his shot go narrowly past the Aquinas upright.
The Blues extended their lead after fifteen minutes of the half, when a Ciaran Martin corner, found its way into the back of the Aquinas net. It was all Northend now, and Ferris again went on a jinxing run, leaving two defenders in his wake before seeing his shot cannon of the Aquinas crossbar.
Northend’s third goal came following a trademark run from Jack McIlhatton, who left two Aquinas defenders in his wake, before rounding the Aquinas keeper and scoring from an acute angle. Northend went looking for more goals but just couldn’t add to their total. Full time 3-0
Panel: A Campbell, C Martin, O Campbell, O McAuley, J McIlhatton, C McKenna, P Ferris, A Bell, P O’Boyle, C Barr, M Las, A Pescaru
Northend United 0 Castle Juniors 3 Saturday 12th March 2022
Northend were slow to start in this game, with the Castle midfield taking control of the game. However, it was Northend who should have taken the lead when Luke Campbell missed a guilt edge chance for the Blues. As Northend piled on the pressure at this stage of the game, Jack McIlhatton saw another good strike go narrowly past the upright.
The game turned midway through the half when a super strike from the Castle striker found the top corner of the Blues net from all of twenty yards. As Castle went looking for a second goal, Stokowiecki, in the Blues nets, was in top form to push the ball over the crossbar from another good Castle shot.
Castle eventually extended their lead with five minutes of the half remaining, when their right winger got to the bye-line and crossed into the Blues box, for the Castle striker to score. Half time 0-2
Into the second half and with Paul O’Boyle, Owen Campbell and Alix Bell all introduced, the Blues started the match the livelier of the teams. However, from a Northend Corner, a long clearance from the Castle keeper caught the Blues defence off guard and their striker ran to score a third goal. Following an injury to Millar, Tyrone Mitchell was introduced for his first game back after a long injury. Try as they might, Northend couldn’t get back in the game and Matty Las should have finished a great chance after one of Jack McIlhatton’s trademark runs. Full time 0-3
Panel: D Stokowiecki, C Martin (c), C O’Boyle, J Telford, O McAuley, S Millar, C McKenna, A Campbell, J McIlhatton, K Barr, M Las, P O’Boyle, O Campbell, A Bell, T Mitchell
Castle Juniors 2 Northend United 1 Saturday 5th March 2022
Northend travelled to the Hydebank pitches in Belfast for this encounter with Bangor based side Castle Juniors on Saturday. The Blues got off to a sluggish start, with Castle Juniors testing Andrew Moore in the Blues net early in the match. However, as the half wore on, Northend came more into the game with Conor McKenna and Ciaran Martin prominent in the Northend midfield. Matty Las and Kai Barr were stretching the Castle defence all over the place ad Las was unlucky when his dipping volley was tipped over the bar by the Castle keeper.
Castle were also producing chances down their left wing where Adam Campbell and Dawid Stokowiecki had to be at their best. Moore made a good save from a pinpoint cross to keep Northend level in the game. At the other end, Conor McKenna saw a dipping shot well saved by the Castle keeper, as play flowed from end to end. Jack McIlhatton and Conall O’Boyle were linking up well down the Northend left wing and McIlhatton was causing all sorts of problems for the Castle defence. However, right on the stroke of half time, castle took the lead when a ball into the Blues box wasn’t dealt with and their striker planted the ball into the bottom corner of the Northend goal. Half time 1-0
Into the second half and with Owen Campbell introduced to play, Northend started the brightest, but it was Castle who extended their lead, 10 minutes into the half, when they scored from a corner, after the loose ball wasn’t properly cleared.
Northend came bouncing back in the game and a good run and shot from Conor McKenna crept below the Castle keeper, into the corner of the Castle net.
Play flowed from end to end in the game and with Jack Adams introduced for his first appearance of the season, Northend looked assured at the back.
Jack McIlhatton had a final chance for Northend, with time running out, when he found space down the Northend left wing and cut inside, only to see his shot hit the side netting. Full time 2-1
Panel: A Moore, A Campbell, C O’Boyle, D Magill, O McAuley, C Martin, C McKenna, D Stokowiecki, J McIlhatton, C Barr, M Las, O Campbell, J Adams